Scientists have implanted human brain tissue into the brains of rat pups. What happened next

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 Scientists implanted human brain tissue into the brains of rat pups. What happened next

Researchers hope the new study will reveal more about the development and treatment of brain disease.

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The brain is a complex mechanism that has never ceased to amaze scientists for years. Hundreds of different studies are conducted each year to understand how our brains work and how and why brain diseases develop. In a new study, scientists have learned to grow “empty” brain cells in the lab and implant them into the brains of rats, writes Science Alert.

This is not the first time a group of scientists led by Stanford University neuroscientist Sergiu Pasca has been trying to implant human brain tissue into the brains of mice. Back in 2008, his team grew brain cells from stem cells in the lab. To do this, scientists used adult stem cells, then induced them to return to their original state of “empty” stem cells, when they had not yet acquired “specialization” – heart, kidney or brain cells. Later, from these cells, scientists grew lumps of brain tissue called organelles in the laboratory.

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During the first experiment, scientists implanted organoids into adult mice. But the study failed because the cells did not take root. Later, the scientists decided to repeat the study, but with rat pups.

As a result, Pashka and his colleagues transplanted human brain tissue into the brains of newborn rats, whose own brains had not yet developed and matured. The organelles were implanted in the somatosensory cortex, an area responsible for processing and receiving sensory information.

The transplant operation was performed on rat pups just a few days old. The brain tissue took root and the scientists continued to observe the animals until they grew up. In total, they were left to grow for 140 days – the rats reach sexual maturity between 6 and 12 weeks. The scientists then proceeded to study the rats.

In the course of the study, the scientists genetically engineered the organelles to respond to simulated blue light by activating neurons. This neuronal stimulation was carried out in an experiment where rats were trained to lick their nose to get water. Later, scientists discovered that when rats were illuminated with blue light, they automatically licked their lips.

Scientists were pleasantly surprised by the results – it turned out that the organoid not only took root and functioned as part of the rat's brain, but also controlled behavior aimed at finding rewards.

According to the authors of the study, the data they obtained in the future can help scientists learn more about how our brain works, how brain diseases develop, and therefore how to treat or prevent brain damage.

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