“Nobody Should Have An Excuse To Still Use The Old Animal Models” says Professor Thomas Hartung. His team at Johns Hopkins University has created mini-brains from human stem cells that grow into little balls of neurons about the size of a fly’s eye. He notes that there is no output or input and the electrical activity is meaningless, but the neurons are trying to communicate with each other.
Ninety-five percent of drugs that look promising in animal studies fail when tested in humans. Other researches have produced larger mini-brains, but the advantage of the Johns Hopkins research is that each is identical and they can be produced by the hundreds.
It is dazzling to consider the potential. Skin cells from patients with diseases with genetic predisposition, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, can be used to create mini-brains. Prospective treatments can then be applied rapidly and cheaply to these brains.