View Full Version : Scientists have grown a teeny-tiny brain.


Amtram
08-28-13, 09:09 PM
Ed Yong covers this story in his blog (http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/28/the-cerebral-organoid-a-lab-grown-model-brain/), with some links to further information that I can't put here because of guidelines. . .but I'm sure you can find them. It was just published in Nature, but it's too new to be free, so just read what he has to say about how and why these mini-brains were grown in glass from stem cells, and what it may mean to understanding what spurs the development of the brain for better or for worse.

ginniebean
08-29-13, 02:59 AM
Call me a kook, but the title of this made me laugh. :) Still interesting

SB_UK
08-29-13, 04:17 AM
-- but are still without even the teeny-tiniest of minds.

Amtram
08-29-13, 06:13 AM
Yes, SB_UK, because removing the genetic programming from an adult stem cell and then inserting the DNA that they believe will result in microcephalic characteristics and growing something that is recognizable as an elementary brain structure in a jar of nutrient solution, keeping it growing until it can't survive without a blood supply but still shows distinct brain structures is something any three year old can do using supplies found around the house.

This is a significant piece of research, well beyond just proof of concept. It has never been done before, and required an enormous amount of work. It built upon prior knowledge that has been amazing in its own right (simply being able to do this using adult stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells is a feat of no small proportion.) It has tremendous applications for learning about neurological conditions that simply cannot be studied in rodent brains (which is explained in the article.)

The results came after many years of experimentation. If you look at the abstract and see the time between submission and publication, you know that it was very thoroughly peer-reviewed before it was published in Nature, which is one of the highest Impact Factor science journals in the world.

It is, quite frankly, an amazing accomplishment.

They converted stem cells so they could grow into brain tissue. They used DNA from microcephalic individuals to see if the brain that grew exhibited microcephalic characteristics to verify if particular genes were actually causing the undergrowth. They were able to keep the tissue alive and developing until it was recognizable as a proto-brain. The brain structure they created showed the distinct characteristics of microcephaly that they were expecting to see, confirming that the suspected genes were likely to be the cause or a contributing cause to microcephaly. Without doing this, they would not have been able to (ethically) test this idea. By doing this, they can (ethically) potentially test the effect of other genes and their influence on the development of the brain. They and others repeated the procedure and reproduced the results.

This is not something that people with "the teeny-tiniest of minds" could do. But I'm sure that the Editors at Nature would be pleased to hear your thoughts - perhaps you should consider sending them your criticism personally.

Fraser_0762
08-29-13, 06:14 AM
Can they make me a tiny brain to replace this one?

Amtram
08-29-13, 06:26 AM
I think that may be a ways off, Fraser. Sorry! If they could do it, I'd be elbowing you out of the way to be first in line.

What this might mean, though, is eventual possible gene therapy for the brain. . .maybe not to fix neurological disorders at first, but perhaps to regrow tissue in people with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Fuzzy12
08-29-13, 07:13 AM
Call me a kook, but the title of this made me laugh. :) Still interesting

:lol:

Me too. Before reading the post, I interpreted it as something like "scientists are finally learning how to behave at least slightly intelligently".

SB_UK
08-29-13, 08:33 AM
http://metro.co.uk/2013/08/28/mini-human-brains-only-4mm-wide-grown-in-lab-3941295/
But Dr Dean Burnett, lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Cardiff, was more cautious about the research published in journal Nature.
‘Saying you can replicate the workings of the brain with tissue in a dish is like inventing the abacus and saying you can use it to run the latest version of Microsoft Windows,’ he said.
‘There is a connection there, but we’re a long way from that sort of application yet.’


It's (the hype) - all just geared to secure further funding.

Make it seem as though we're just around the corner from something significant
- but never quite make it.

If anything, what advancing knowledge appears to be teaching us eg the annhilation of the human microbiome by the 'wonder' antibiotics
- is that our miracle discoveries generally turn into somewhat of a curse.

"never saw a miracle of science, that didn't turn from a blessing into a curse"

How robust must the observation be, for it to have made itself into musical lyrics ?

SB_UK
08-29-13, 10:15 AM
We've seen this all before - with the treasures that await us when we sequence the genome, genome-wide disease association analysis screen people, can sequence genomes in the blink of an eye ... ... but nothing ever comes of these 'big' projects.

And that's because the answer to the question which drives all of these studies is simply the stress of existence which ratchets up as the rate of population growth curve falls - and the collective economic environment deteriorates.

That's why we have increasing levels of Western style disorders now - despite record levels of research into them.

Everybody's (the medical researcher's) barking up the wrong tree (on the wrong abstraction layer).

Amtram
08-29-13, 10:51 AM
Right, nothing ever comes of this research. I mean, a year ago, I was losing my vision, my speech was impaired, and I needed help to walk without falling over. Today, because of brain research, not only have my faculties returned, but, well, I'm alive. So, yeah, total waste of time and effort.

If Burnett, author of the cherry-picked quote from the last article, believes that anyone who worked on this project thinks that they are now rockstars that can manufacture brains, then he clearly didn't read even the abstract. Just for everyone's edification, here's the rest of the article before Burnett's input, along with one of the images from the study:



http://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/ay_117108469.jpg?w=650&h=419&crop=1#038;h=645Mind matter: A close-up of one of the mini-brains grown by the research team (Picture: PA)Mini-brains grown in a lab could lead to new treatments for conditions including schizophrenia and autism.

The 4mm-wide structures, made using human stem cells, are incapable of thought and no use for transplants.

But because they share the design of functioning brains, they may be useful for research and testing of drugs.

‘If you think about the brain as a car, then what we have created is a car which has its engine on the roof and the gear box in the trunk,’ said Professor Juergen Knoblich.

‘You can study the car parts but you can’t drive it.’

The breakthrough may overcome the limitations of researching human diseases by testing on animals, whose brains are less complex.

In one experiment, the researchers grew a mini-brain using cells taken from a patient with microcephaly. They found its growth was stunted – mimicking the effects of the disease. There was a mixed reaction to the research, carried out by a British and Austrian team led by Prof Knoblich, of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna.

Dr Zameel Cader, from Oxford University and the John Radcliffe Hospital, said it was ‘fascinating and exciting’.

And neuroscientist Professor Paul Matthews, from Imperial College London, said the study offered the promise of a ‘major new tool’ for understanding major developmental disorders.

Nope, no outrageous claims there. And if you read the original article, and then the link to The Scientist (which I didn't post even though it is good because I follow forum guidelines about commercial links) you will see similarly realistic claims about the potentials and limitations of this finding, as well as the reason it was needed in the first place.

There are things we can't study in mouse brains. There are things that don't translate perfectly from animal research to human trials. Now we can use this to build human tissue and do in-vitro testing that's significantly more useful and accurate than in-vitro tests that are on isolated cell cultures. In some cases, it could even save the animal testing step, making the research process more humane.

SB_UK
08-29-13, 11:20 AM
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v500/n7464/full/500523a.html
When new technologies emerge, optimism and enthusiasm often trump humility. In their excitement at making a discovery, many scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs suddenly believe that they can predict and control outcomes in complex physical and biological systems — and they frequently use metaphors to convey that belief.
One way to safeguard against runaway metaphors is to involve experts from diverse disciplines in the assessment of emerging technologies.

Note that Burnett is not from the neuro- material world disciplines.

One way to safeguard against runaway metaphors is to involve experts from diverse disciplines in the assessment of emerging technologies.
If you get all of your mates (who do pretty much the same thing) to check out your new gizmo'
- what'd you expect them to say ?
That it's pointless.
Would invalidate their own research, it would.

Amtram
08-29-13, 11:39 AM
So here's what the abstract says - keep in mind that the abstract is sort of a "press release" - it's what the researchers want other scientists to see, so that their attention will be caught when they're searching for information that's relevant to their own work, or for journalists to see when they're looking for something to write about. (I have comments in non-italic text that I hope will clarify some of what may not make complete sense to people who don't read these things for fun!)

The complexity of the human brain has made it difficult to study many brain disorders in model organisms (Models being primarily animal, but also computerized. In this case, we can genetically breed mice with genes for microcephaly, but in a brain that's already incredibly small, it's not terribly useful.),
highlighting the need for an in vitro model of human brain development. (Meaningbeing able to create an "organoid" human collection of cells in a glass container that will exhibit similar development to what would occur in the womb.)
Here we have developed a human pluripotent stem cell-derived three-dimensional organoid culture system, (Pluripotent - capable of developing in different ways. Stem-cell derived - in this case, adult stem cells stripped of their genetic information and given the genetic information from the DNA present in the brains of microcephalic subjects. Organoid culture system - like an organ, but not a fully functioning organ; a system of cells that show the characteristics of an organ, but in an early, partially developed state.)
termed cerebral organoids, that develop various discrete, although interdependent, brain regions. (The structures found in these cerebral organoids resembled several of the parts of a fully developed brain, indicating that the stem cell cultures had begun to build an actual brain, not just a random clump of cells. Stimulus testing on the organoids showed that the parts were communicating with one another in response.)
These include a cerebral cortex containing progenitor populations that organize and produce mature cortical neuron subtypes. (The organoid included a cerebral cortex, which is the outermost sheet of the brain that covers all the lumps and folds of the brain. The cells of this cerebral cortex had cells which, had this been a brain growing in a body, would have developed into even more of the different cells that make up the cerebral cortex.)
Furthermore, cerebral organoids are shown to recapitulate features of human cortical development, namely characteristic progenitor zone organization with abundant outer radial glial stem cells. (The organoids showed the same kind of order and organization of development in the cerebral cortex cells that we would find in human prenatal brain development.)
Finally, we use RNA interference and patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells to model microcephaly, a disorder that has been difficult to recapitulate in mice. (They inserted the genetic information that was suspected to result in human microcephaly into the stem cells because of the tiny mouse brain problem.)
We demonstrate premature neuronal differentiation in patient organoids, a defect that could help to explain the disease phenotype. (This organoid, developed using the genetic information taken from microcephalic brain cells, showed the same kind of defect that was found in the microcephalic brains, which supports the hypothesis that the genes in question might be causing the developmental flaw.)
Together, these data show that three-dimensional organoids can recapitulate development and disease even in this most complex human tissue. (We can use this to test other genes to see how they affect brain development, too.)

The beauty of finding commentary about these studies from reputable science journalists or blogs written by scientists in the field is that they have access to the rest of the study and know how to read it. They can tell you what the implications and applications of the findings might be. The publications themselves do not make speculations. They might suggest that in connection with knowledge we already have, their work might support specific other findings. They might suggest that their findings could be put to use in other research that is currently being undertaken, or as a supportive tool in potential research that's being discussed.

Even meta-analyses, which are collections of study references that are related to a specific topic in order to show what evidence supports a particular hypothesis, generally don't come to hyperbolic conclusions.

If you see a claim that looks breathtakingly awesome, you need to take it with many, many grains of salt. Sources that make extraordinary claims (or extraordinary criticisms) are usually more concerned with hit counts than knowing what they're talking about.

Essentially, in order to read even just that abstract and conclude that anything was discovered other than that we can use stem cells to test the effect of specific genes for their possible role in the development of the physical structure of the brain, you have to be making things up or putting words into the authors' mouths.

Amtram
08-29-13, 11:49 AM
Ginnie and Fuzzy, I would have laughed, too, and I actually kind of intended the title to be a little silly.

I knew I was taking a risk posting something scientific in the Scientific Discussions section

I would love to see this discussion focus on the science presented in the OP. (Even if it gets silly from time to time.)

Because some of this stuff is really cool and interesting. It would be fun to discuss. It would be fun to contemplate the potential. It would even be fun to argue, from a scientific standpoint, what might be criticisms of the research and its conclusions based on what they actually said.

Lunacie
08-29-13, 01:01 PM
But Dr Dean Burnett, lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Cardiff, was more cautious about the research published in journal Nature.
‘Saying you can replicate the workings of the brain with tissue in a dish is like inventing the abacus and saying you can use it to run the latest version of Microsoft Windows,’ he said.
‘There is a connection there, but we’re a long way from that sort of application yet.’


Of course we're not "there" yet. Who said we are? I'm sure everyone knows
that is just one step towards greater knowledge and understanding - and I
think it's a pretty damn impressive step forwards.


How long did it take humans to get from the abacus to the calculator?
Centuries right? How long did it take to get from the calculator to
computers small enough to fit inside a cell phone? A couple of decades?


These are areas where knowledge is literally exploding. The research using
this brain tissue instead of rat brains may not yield anything in time to
help me given my advanced age, but it could likely provide some benefit
for my grandkids who are now 15 and 11 and I think that's awesome.

Unmanagable
08-29-13, 01:46 PM
I had to laugh when I read it, too. Wish I had stopped at the title and kept my sense of humor, though.

Definitely an interesting thread, in many ways.

mildadhd
08-29-13, 03:00 PM
Could you ever grow a full brain?

It’s unlikely. For a start, the organoids don’t have any blood vessels so they can only get a few millimetres wide before the cells in the middle start to starve and die. Even if the team solved this problem, human brains don’t grow in isolation. They’re connected to eyes and ears and bodies. From an early age, they start picking up information. Growing a ball of neurons in the absence of any of that doesn’t get you a proper brain, any more than erecting a set of shelves gets you a library.

Quote from the OP link (http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/28/the-cerebral-organoid-a-lab-grown-model-brain/).




Peripheral

SB_UK
08-29-13, 03:27 PM
It's important to realise that this is a science section on an ADHD site - and as I think we all know - ADHD is a condition of the mind
- and as my first comment on this thread indicated - no matter how teeny tiny the scientist's brain - there is no evidence of a mind in their disorganized clump of cells seeking only publicity and a lovely Nature article (bonus points - that'll do nicely!)

- invalidating its utility in conditions of the mind ie ADHD ie *here*.

It's important not to lose focus.

We're not here to discuss every scientific article ever written - we are simply required to explain what is ADHD and how can any an ADDer's quality of life be optimised.

These brain in a jar, burger in a jar stem cell stories are misleading - because unlike in information technology - we aren't building things from the ground up
- we're simply taking some of nature's constructs and allowing them to grow in a dish.

We're not actually making a brain - the making of a brain is all down to a developmental trajectory imbued by nature upon stem cells - which we're reliant upon
- unlike in, for instance, computer software - where from (effectively) the bottom up - we actually create it.

The distinction is, is that when we go back to true or effectively first principles (the logic gate in software) - we know what the end product will be useful for.
If we create using black box stem cells - then we're never going to be completely sure what we're going to end up with.

So medical research has the flavour - well let's try it and fingers crossed - let's see what happens.
This isn't science.
Computer programming aligns much closer to the principle of science - because it's driven by the desire to produce something - which is produced to the specification laid down prior to coding.

When we perform an experiment using tissue derived from in vitro constructed brain tissue - you're never going to be too sure whether the results are actually an artefact of the model - or representative of the actual living brain.

This isn't a problem we have with software - software behaves exactly as it's programmed to behave.

The point I'm making - is that these forms of stem cell manipulations aren't science - they're 'suck it and see' well we've gotta' do something adventures in nonsense
- and since stem cells grow really easily
- it's yet another example of so called science applying itself to paradigms which are easy as opposed to necessary.

Apparently the head of google's marriage to the head of some genomics company fell apart today - that's a great metaphor for what I'm trying to describe in this post.

-omics is ostensibly nonsense - from the strict perspective of medicine.
-ology (particularly epidemiology, physiology, psychology and sociology) is all you need - from the strict perspective of medicine.

Amtram
08-29-13, 04:23 PM
It's important to realise that this is a science section on an ADHD site - and as I think we all know - ADHD is a condition of the mind

Citation needed. Scientists view the mind as a product of the brain - all other definitions are spiritual or philosophical. Ergo, ADHD will essentially be a condition of the brain, and is viewed by science as such. Therefore, we will know nothing about ADHD by studying something that cannot be scientifically measured and which, by scientific definition, is simply a parallel product of the brain. Studying "the mind" to discover the roots of ADHD would be like studying IQ to discover the roots of ADHD.

We're not here to discuss every scientific article ever written - we are simply required to explain what is ADHD and how can any an ADDer's quality of life be optimised.

Since understanding of the brain is directly related to understanding the roots and presentation of neurological conditions like ADHD, discussion of neuroscience that advances this study is relevant. Let's not repress people's curiosity and creative thinking? Why not explore the research that has produced the most significant and tangible real-world applications?


So medical research has the flavour - well let's try it and fingers crossed - let's see what happens.
This isn't science.

What you describe is, indeed, not science. But what you describe is not what scientists are doing. Even an elementary school student is taught that the scientific method excludes "pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey" reasoning.

When we perform an experiment using tissue derived from in vitro constructed brain tissue - you're never going to be too sure whether the results are actually an artefact of the model - or representative of the actual living brain.

Yeah, they kind of are sure now. They had good enough reason to suspect what would happen to get approval for doing the research in the first place and getting the funding. If you don't know what they did and what preceded it, you might think that you couldn't predict what would happen or demonstrate success. But anyone who's been paying attention to the research that preceded this will understand both the purpose of this experiment and the supporting evidence that showed proof of concept for it. And what you're saying here is not what they were even trying to accomplish in the first place, so it's not really relevant.

Amtram
08-29-13, 04:27 PM
Quote from the OP link (http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/28/the-cerebral-organoid-a-lab-grown-model-brain/).




Peripheral

That's right. They weren't trying to build a brain. This is not a big deal. "Making a human brain" wasn't the purpose of the research.

mildadhd
08-29-13, 04:56 PM
That's right. They weren't trying to build a brain. This is not a big deal. "Making a human brain" wasn't the purpose of the research.

The researchers didn't grow a teeny-tiny brain, either.

I think it is important to present the whole picture.

It is emphatically not a brain in a jar. Jürgen Knoblich, who developed the organoids, told me that’s a very misleading description.

(see OP link)


Peripheral

SB_UK
08-30-13, 04:47 AM
Maybe just a brief explanation of the relationship between this experiment and ADHD 'd help ?

SB_UK
08-30-13, 05:11 AM
These are areas where knowledge is literally exploding. The research using this brain tissue instead of rat brains may not yield anything in time to help me given my advanced age, but it could likely provide some benefit for my grandkids who are now 15 and 11 and I think that's awesome.

But, to be fair - it also 'could' not.

The most sensible approach would be to do what we're sure would result in a better world - and using epidemiology (and in the absence of any further experimentation) - we can define that better world now.

SB_UK
08-30-13, 06:00 AM
-- but are still without even the teeny-tiniest of minds.

To be fair - here's the author of the article making the same point.

~s (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/28/health/stem-cell-brain/)~As for growing a brain structure from stem cells that's capable of conscious thought, Knoblich said this would likely not be possible, or desirable.

Even the author of the work acknowledges that his work has nothing to do with mind.

And you need a mind to have ADHD.

Surely there's no doubt that ADHD is a condition of the mind/mental disorder ?

meadd823
08-30-13, 06:21 AM
- My peer response

I think the OP made it clear earlier she believes the mind is a function of the brain therefore ADD would be a brain thing to her.

I like the way you asked it earlier

Maybe just a brief explanation of the relationship between this experiment and ADHD 'd help ?

or more relevant - will some thing like this develop into the ability to eliminate people like us {ADDers} under the guise of a "cure"?

I like the possibility of eliminating animal experimentation but I am not to sure about this making of a brain model either. If it has any practical application then it's a bit to close to a human brain for me - It's not that I do not trust science it's more like I do not trust humans.

SB_UK
08-30-13, 06:49 AM
... or more relevant - will some thing like this develop into the ability to eliminate people like us {ADDers} under the guise of a "cure"?

I wouldn't actually mind knowing if there's absolutely anything in any area of medical research which offers the reasonable prospect of curing/preventing/eliminating ADHD.

The stimulant medication, when it worked, which it did for a couple of years for me - can definitely be considered a triumph of medicine.
Though - dexedrine has been around since before the discovery of DNA - I can't see anything which can in any way compare with it - with respect to making life better for ADDers
- and it no longer works in me.

And so I'm justified in being hard on the last 50 or so years on heavy medical research in ADHD - as I'm yet to see any benefit from it.

I can though provide a simple explanation of how to eliminate ADHD - which I've done many times over - and which I can give a 100% guarantee over its likelihood of success
- but I won't repeat myself again here.

Kunga Dorji
08-30-13, 08:50 AM
http://metro.co.uk/2013/08/28/mini-human-brains-only-4mm-wide-grown-in-lab-3941295/


It's (the hype) - all just geared to secure further funding.

Make it seem as though we're just around the corner from something significant
- but never quite make it.

If anything, what advancing knowledge appears to be teaching us eg the annhilation of the human microbiome by the 'wonder' antibiotics
- is that our miracle discoveries generally turn into somewhat of a curse.


How robust must the observation be, for it to have made itself into musical lyrics ?

There is always this tiny little problem:

While I agree with Amtram that the study quoted is marvellously clever- it is a little like pulling the wings off a butterfly to see how it works.

As living organisms we have a reality that is greater than the sum of our parts.

The reductionism of the scientific method always has serious problems when it is confronted with the complexity of even one life, let alone the interbeing of countless billions of lives.

Lunacie
08-30-13, 10:15 AM
But, to be fair - it also 'could' not.

The most sensible approach would be to do what we're sure would result in a better world - and using epidemiology (and in the absence of any further experimentation) - we can define that better world now.

I don't believe we'll ever have a guarantee that any research is going to
lead to something in particular. Sometimes it leads to something quite
unexpected but beneficial in a different area. To be fair, replicating the
research is what leads to being sure ... the initial research, not so much.



Sadly - and this is a crushing indictment on medical research.

I wouldn't actually mind knowing if there's absolutely anything in any area of medical research which offers the reasonable prospect of curing/preventing/eliminating {any 'Western' disorder} within the forseeable future.

I can offer a guarantee of an intervention which man can easily achieve, which will (100% guaranteed) eliminate all of the disorders of Western living and of poverty.

Like vaccines prevent polio or measles? That would be nice, but probably
not realistic, since mental disorders like ADHD don't seem to be caused by
viruses that are contagious. For now, it would be a good thing if research
could provide more effective treatment options. That seems forseeable.



There is always this tiny little problem:

While I agree with Amtram that the study quoted is marvellously clever- it is a little like pulling the wings off a butterfly to see how it works.

As living organisms we have a reality that is greater than the sum of our parts.

The reductionism of the scientific method always has serious problems when it is confronted with the complexity of even one life, let alone the interbeing of countless billions of lives.

Studying bacteria outside the environment of the human body still led to
some great medical advancements, no? Meanwhile research has advanced
to find ways of studying how all our body parts work while still inside the
body.

When we know more about the bits and pieces of the brain, it could lead to
advancements where the brain can be studied in situ - even better than the
current fMRIs and brain scans do.

SB_UK
08-30-13, 10:28 AM
There is always this tiny little problem:

While I agree with Amtram that the study quoted is marvellously clever- it is a little like pulling the wings off a butterfly to see how it works.

As living organisms we have a reality that is greater than the sum of our parts.

The reductionism of the scientific method always has serious problems when it is confronted with the complexity of even one life, let alone the interbeing of countless billions of lives.

I wonder whether the cleverness is in the developmental trajectory encoded within stem cells - rather than in anything that human beings have done ?

Amtram
08-30-13, 10:43 AM
In general, if you try doing something only if you are already certain that you will get the results you want, you will never try anything, and you will never learn anything. And nothing is 100% successful in any of the life sciences, because even within a single species, there is not 100% homogeneity. That's a pretty simple concept.

Condemning this research because it hasn't produced something it wasn't designed to produce is. . .I don't know, sophistry, perhaps? Like, what good is a bicycle if it can't fly, right?

This is the Scientific Discussions section, and this is science. Scientific research may occasionally touch on "the mind," but what "the mind" is depends on the discipline that's working on it, and it is a conceptual thing, not something that can be observed, tested, and quantified by the scientific method. Since the research in the OP had to do with something that is observable, testable, and quantifiable, it is only the off-topic posts that are not about the research in the OP that would be more appropriate in the Philosophical discussion.

This, however, is hard science that has produced a tangible, measurable, reproducible result.

To reiterate - the experiment was designed to see if growing brain tissue from stem cells that had been stripped of their original genetic information and injected with the gene suspected to cause microcephaly would result in brain tissue that had developed enough to demonstrate signs of microcephaly.

Not only did the cells form an organism that was recognizable as an early developmental form of a brain, but it continued to grow in a glass container of nutrient solution until it reached the developmental stage in which a blood supply was necessary for it to continue to grow.

In addition, the structures that formed showed the characteristic signs of microcephaly, providing evidence that the gene being tested is, indeed, responsible for microcephalic brain development.

As well, this organoid, when stimulated, showed neurological response patterns indicative of activity that is normal in a functioning brain, showing that it was a model that had the potential for serving as a testing model for human brains when rodent brains are not viable for the condition being studied.

That's it. Right there. That's what was being studied, and that's what the results were. Nobody who expects it to have studied something different or produced additional results is being logical or reasonable. It's not flawed because it didn't produce something other than what it was designed to produce.

SB_UK
08-30-13, 10:51 AM
If you consider ADHD to be a product of the structure of the brain, then any research can result in a greater understanding of how the brain works.
That's a potentially infinite body of information.

We have to be more targeted - though expressly not where targeting means doing what's easiest.

It might be great to get lots of data, with high significances, but these types of studies tend towards being highly descriptive which cannot be taken anywhere.

Amtram
08-30-13, 11:07 AM
Now, why does it have relevance to ADHD? Because it provides a model by which other genes can be inserted into stem cells and produce a brain organoid to see if those genes produce a brain model that shows a specific growth or connectivity pattern that is indicative of those differences that have been found in people with ADHD.

This also fits in nicely with the new research guidelines (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-priorities/rdoc/index.shtml) put in place by the National Institute of Health. Many papers that have combined behavioral and cognitive testing with genetic testing for ADHD have found that not all subjects with ADHD have a particular genetic marker, and that genetic marker is found in non-ADHD subjects, but that the subjects who have the genetic marker all test high for a particular behavior. This model provides a way to isolate a gene that shows a high correlation with an observable symptom and see what that single gene does to change brain development.

Without relying on animals, who aren't always acceptable models for human diseases and conditions, and without waiting for enough people to die and donate their brains to try to reverse-engineer the hypothesis.

There have been several papers recently showing genetic overlap in highly heritable psychiatric and neurological conditions, and we don't know why these conditions share genes. If we can watch what these genes do in a human model brain, one at a time, then we finally learn the connection.

We can look at DNA and see the genes and the gene loci that caused observable, highly heritable characteristics like coloration of hair, eyes, skin, or genes that confer a higher susceptibility to certain health outcomes. This new model will allow us to see what genes do to the brain, one at a time, improving our understanding of the relationship between genetic markers and cognitive and behavioral effects.

Eventually. . .not immediately, as some seem to expect. . .it will lead to treatments, and perhaps even prevention. We are a long, long way away from being able to genetically modify human beings. But just as we use a specific antibiotic to combat a specific bacterial infection, we'll be better able to use a specific medication to target a specific neurological symptom. That means medications for ADHD that work on the symptoms we have without having the side effects that make us feel worse.

mildadhd
08-30-13, 02:08 PM
What "things" could result in a person having less the of natural, actual working type of organoids, in the first place?






Peripheral

Amtram
08-30-13, 02:23 PM
What was grown was an organoid - a physical structure that resembled and and had some of the functions of a BRAIN. That physical thing inside our skulls that you can pick up and touch and look at and measure activity in.

There is similar research going on for reconstructive surgery and organ replacement, in which stem cells are given genetic information that cause them to develop different, less complex body parts. When it's being used to make a replacement ear, we don't question its usefulness, or contemplate whether it will affect one's appreciation for Mozart. When it's making a heart valve, we don't complain that it might not open and close faster at the sight of a loved one.

We don't completely understand how genetic instructions drive the formation of the brain. There's too much genetic information and the brain is too complex to untangle it easily. This model makes it possible to look at what specific genes do in creating a human brain without the confounding genetics of in vivo testing. It is not a model that is capable of interacting with the world outside it, so speculating on what it might be like if it could is unfounded and detracts from the information that the study actually provides us.

Dizfriz
08-30-13, 02:52 PM
What "things" could result in a person having less the of natural, actual working type of organoids, in the first place?

Peripheral



An organoid is defined as a structure that resembles an organ so a person would not be expected to have less of it. If you could restate the question, I will try to respond the best I can to get you the information you are asking for.

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/organoid

Dizfriz

mildadhd
08-30-13, 03:13 PM
My last post was a general comparison, the same idea goes for this thread.

Amtram wrote...

We don't completely understand how genetic instructions drive the formation of the brain

I am 100% sure that there are environmental factors involved along with the topic of genetics and the formation of the brain.

But environment is a mandatory factor (not the only factor) along with genetic instructions and the formation of the brain.

I'm interested in discussing the whole picture.

I would start another thread but this thread is a great example of what I am trying to express.

Peripheral

SB_UK
08-30-13, 03:25 PM
What was grown was an organoid - a physical structure that resembled and and had some of the functions of a BRAIN. You know, that physical thing inside our skulls that you can pick up and touch and look at and measure activity in.


So - if ADHD is something to do with mind, then organoid has nothing to do with ADHD ?

Philosophy and Psychology 'd baulk at the idea that they're reducible to brain.

They're reducible to logic which it isn't possible to reduce to neurone.

mildadhd
08-30-13, 03:40 PM
This quote is from the OP link (http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/08/28/the-cerebral-organoid-a-lab-grown-model-brain/)

...human brains don’t grow in isolation. They’re connected to eyes and ears and bodies. From an early age, they start picking up information. Growing a ball of neurons in the absence of any of that doesn’t get you a proper brain, any more than erecting a set of shelves gets you a library.


This quote from the opening link captures the idea of what I am trying to express,

My point is that environment definitely plays a part in these subjects. (along with other factors mentioned in this thread)



Peripheral

mildadhd
08-30-13, 05:49 PM
If you have information on a man-made brain being used to research
environmental factors, then bring it on. That would fit in this discussion.


Lunacie,

The researchers didn't make a man-made brain.

The OP link discusses environmental factors.




Peripheral

Lunacie
08-30-13, 06:28 PM
Lunacie,

The researchers didn't make a man-made brain.

The OP link discusses environmental factors.

Peripheral

I know they didn't make a brain - at least not a whole brain.

The focus of the OPs link was on studying mutations to brain development,
not on environmental factors.

Amtram
08-30-13, 07:40 PM
How do you know what results from genetic factors and what results from environmental factors if you don't study them separately? Think about it.

We can clearly show cause and effect with genes in many cases. This is one of those cases. Environment is a more complex variable. Figure out what the genes do, establish what's caused by the genetic instructions, and you have a much clearer path to studying what might be environmental, because the most significant cause and effect has already been established.

Also keep in mind that this study was using ONE specific gene to see what it did. Looking at the outcome of a genetic instruction in the absence of environmental factors actually improves the quality of hypotheses about and research into environmental influence. Occam's razor - you pick the simplest solution first. Once you've established what a gene does, you know whether it is significant or relevant. You know whether it has a predetermined outcome or whether the outcome can be influenced somehow.

Otherwise, you really are just taking wild stabs at things and making guesses.

Lunacie
08-30-13, 08:57 PM
The research provided the proper environment for the brain cells to grow,
but the research wasn't about how specific environments may cause mutations.

It was about how specific genes cause mutations.

Amtram
08-30-13, 09:12 PM
In what way is the environment of a nutrient bath in a glass jar with gel for suspension and a spinning vat in any way relevant to what we consider environmental factors for humans? Can you demonstrate any evidence that putting fetus' brain in a nutrient solution and spinning it around results in a living human being with mental/behavioral/neurological issues caused by this environment?

My guess is no, because that would not result in a living human being.

And changing the environment in the glass jar would result in a waste of time, effort, and money, because the cells would not have developed into anything.

It's not an opinion, it's a simple fact.

You yourself have cited many, many discrete and unconnected examples of what you consider "environment," and not a single one of them is relevant to this experiment, since each of them requires (at the very least) a blood supply from the mother. Every article you find on this will make it clear that this organoid has neither mother nor father, and no blood supply. Ergo, there is no "environment" to correlate with human experience, taking "environment" completely out of the picture in this research.

namazu
08-30-13, 09:42 PM
MOD NOTE:

After reviewing the thread, I've moved a number of interesting posts concerning mind/brain duality to a separate thread (http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=149997), though some mind-brain questions relevant to the OP (i.e., can work such as this provide insight into the development of complex mental disorders?) remain.


In addition, I've done some general (more heavy-handed than I prefer) editing to keep the thread on-topic and to reduce the number of interpersonal squabbles and carry-over from other threads bubbling up here.


Please keep further posts on this thread focused (fairly narrowly) on the research in the original post, and what it may or may not tell us about the functions of genes expressed in the brain, and how that may relate to understanding conditions such as ADHD.


More general/broad-scope comments about mind-brain duality, gene-environment interactions outside the scope of the research mentioned in the OP, and social facets of disease development would be better placed elsewhere.