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Meek at whose everlasting feet
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Upon an August day?

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AM/PM Session - 28 November 2017 - Tiny human brain organoids implanted into rodents

NatashaTNatashaT Posts: 1,059 Teacher
We read an article about scientific experiments which are implanting tiny pieces of human brain into lab rats and mice:


Vocabulary Top 10:

minuscule - very small, tiny

blob - a usually small amount of something thick and wet; something that does not have a regular shape

full-blown - having all of the qualities that are associated with a particular thing or type of person : fully developed

quasi- - in some way or sense but not in a true, direct, or complete way; almost

uncharted waters - a situation that is not well known and may be dangerous

organoid - an artificially grown mass of cells or tissue that resembles an organ

mimic - to copy; to look like something else; to create the appearance or effect of (something)

moratorium - a time when a particular activity is not allowed

embryo - a human or animal in the early stages of development before it is born, hatched, etc.

on tap - planned or scheduled to happen

What are some of the ethical problems involved?
What are some of the potential benefits?
Who should make the decision about whether these kinds of experiments are ethically ok?


  • aprilapril Moderator Posts: 10,883 mod
    Let me talk about the potential benefits first, before I run down this experiment into the ground. :D
    I understand that researchers are eager to discover anything to fight diseases, disabilities or just things that worsen aging process.
    So by starting with this experiment, I presume and some of them claimed that the goal is to heal the "world".
    That's very noble of course.
    If I were to suffer with one or another rare disease, I might have encouraged it.

    I can't think of another benefits though except that scientists and researchers have to do something another they will be jobless (sorry), so I'll switch to the ethical problems of it.

    I'm thinking of the manipulation of human cells by implanting them to another living creatures.
    I know we have already manipulated a lot of thing; our body, nose, eyes, bones, IVF, etc etc.
    Some of them give me the shivers and others seem quite normal.
    Is this one so much different?
    For me, yes. It feels so not right.
    We try to change a creature to something else!
    Yes, they say that - I quote - Researchers so far have been careful to note that the brain organoids are far from being actual brains. They don’t experience anything like consciousness and implanting them into rats and mice isn’t going to create Stuart Little.
    On the other hand,
    Ethicists argue that “not a problem now” doesn’t mean “never a problem.” (which I agree with)

    And what about the rats and mice themselves?
    What is their role here?
    Only as guinea pigs and they will be killed and thrown away after they are used as cure?
    Do we really have the right to do that? In the name of science and for a better human living?
    Do we really need to be able to change things?

    I don't know.
    My simple mind says that it's not right, but who am I ???

  • filauziofilauzio Genoa ( Italy )Posts: 1,930 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I admit it's a difficlt matter to deal with; I'm also afraid that everyone's mind will remain the same even after debating; nevertheless I think it's a very important and present subject of discussion.

    Whenever I listen to ethicists, my mind and hands start to itch out of push to refute almost everything they say.

    I can't bear their posing as modern oracles, who have been committed by God in person, to tell the masses what's right and what's wrong: in a word the God's unquestionable moral.

    Is it God's moral to have people get injured or permanently disabled by such diseases as stroke and subsequent paralysis ?

    Is it in God's unquestionable moral to have people grow diseases such as autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson's and other neurological pathologies ?

    Maybe, it can be. In this case, though, I think people, and their warriors on the front of advanced research, have the right, better, the obligation to go against that moral.

    I think the human brain organoids nothing are but a bunch of cells, exactly like the human embryo in the earliest stage of development. I think it isn't a being, still not so; therefore, as much disturbing as the process can seem, it can be used for research purposes.

    I also think researchers should be allowed to implant them into mice's or rats's brain, in order to find out how the cerebral development proceed.

    Ethicists raised concerns about the fact that this transplant, if done with a large fraction of the human brain organoid's cells, might ' in principle ', ' potentially ', lead to mice developing human consciousness, cognitive and emotional abilities, capability to suffer.

    I'm wondering wherever these ethicists were hiding away, during the time scientists had been carried out researches on mice in order to eradicate most mortal diseases from the globe.
    Perhaps, then, the rodents weren't entitled to suffer as much as their present descendants.

    I think that the humans brain's specific consciousness and cognition must be referred mainly to their large, complex frontal cortex.
    It needs enough room to house it; that's allowed by the large skull we are provided, pretty unlike the rats.

    Besides, they are further developed by our brain's connection with the other complex body organs, such as the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, limbs, hands, feet; which all are much more sophisticated than the rat's ones.

    Finally, these two abilities are refined by our environments, experiences, relationships, which all again, apart from some individuals maybe, should be far more different from the rat's ones.

    Unless, obviously, you enjoyed living a life in a lab cage and limiting your exercise and experiences to climbing on a spinning hamster's wheel, under a constantly switched on neon light.
    glad to stop strict diet, splashed in belly flop? Don't care you're not light, here on English hop !
  • filauziofilauzio Genoa ( Italy )Posts: 1,930 ✭✭✭✭✭
    @april, you wrote:

    ' ... And what about the rats and mice themselves?
    What is their role here?
    Only as guinea pigs and they will be killed and thrown away after they are used as cure?
    Do we really have the right to do that? In the name of science and for a better human living?
    Do we really need to be able to change things?... '

    I can understand you concerns here; I also think any animals need to be respected as a sentient being.

    However, I got cruelty on animals is rather mainly hidden away in other sectors of our supposedly ' civil ' ' human ' economy model.

    Take, for instance, the industrial farms in the US.

    I read an article which, among others, reported cases of cruelty within a poultry industrial farm.

    Living male chicks were being carried upon a conveyor-belt towards a grinding machine; they were to be eliminated because in excess in relation to the need of the farm's production.

    According to the article the chicks were being killed by the millions; I suppose it referred to a yearly figure involving the whole U.S. industrial farms.

    That said, I suppose scientific researchers would limit themselves just to study the Drosophila Melanogaster ( the fruit fly ) if they could.

    But in the case of human brain's studies, I'm afraid, the nice insect could turn out of little usefulness.
    glad to stop strict diet, splashed in belly flop? Don't care you're not light, here on English hop !
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