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Ethical brain teaser

[PLEASE READ ARTICLE FIRST] Given a 9-week old brain in a jar

  • The brain should be kept alive and allowed to develop fully.

    Votes: 2 28.6%
  • The brain's life should be terminated

    Votes: 2 28.6%
  • Other (explain)

    Votes: 3 42.9%

  • Total voters
    7

xariskai

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Scientists have successfully grown a human brain in a jar. My question is not whether this should be done -it has been done (though you can speak to this too if you wish) but given that one has a living brain in a jar what should be done with it (him/her?). Please discuss your vote.

"“We’re talking about the very first steps of embryonic brain development, like in the first nine weeks of pregnancy,” Knoblich said.

...Using molecular markers tuned to specific parts of the brain, Lancaster showed that the organoids develop a variety of distinctive zones that correspond to human brain regions like the prefrontal cortex, occipital lobe, hippocampus, and retina. They also included working neurons, which were produced in the right way—they were made by radial glial cells at the innermost layers of the cortex, before migrating to the outer layers.

Other scientists have developed organoids that mimic several human organs, including eyes, kidneys, intestines, and even brains. For example, in 2008, Yoshiki Sasai’s team at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology showed that stem cells can be coaxed into balls of neural cells that self-organize into distinctive layers. But compared to this earlier attempt, the new organoids are “the most complete to date, in terms of features that directly resemble those in the developing human brain,” according to Arnold Kriegstein, a stem cell biologist from the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study."

Full article:
http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37262/title/Lab-Grown-Model-Brains/
 

J Michael

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I voted "other" because "I don't know" wasn't offered as an option.

The article clearly states that what has been "grown" are "models".  So, the question is a little misleading, as the article discusses models not brains.  As far as I know, a model is a representation of something, not the thing itself.  Is the "model" human?  I doubt it, but I'm no bio-ethicist.  Could the "model" develop into a human?  Again, I have no idea.  Way above my pay grade.  So...I don't know.  

That scientists have done this scares me, but it doesn't surprise me really.  Joke: What's the difference between God and a doctor (or scientist)?  God doesn't believe He's a doctor(scientist). :angel:
 

LizaSymonenko

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"organoids" ....what a word.
 

TheTrisagion

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I am freaked out now.  Can the brain think?  :eek:
 

J Michael

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TheTrisagion said:
I am freaked out now.  Can the brain think?  :eek:
Mine does.  Well....sometimes.  Okay....pretty infrequently.  And, it is painful, so.....
 

TheTrisagion

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After reading the article, I am less freaked out, but I still think there are a lot of ethical questions here...
 

hecma925

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I don't see the ethical violation.  They haven't created a functioning brain.  These are living cells that have arranged themselves in such a fashion.  Is it ethical that my skin cells constantly die and float in the air?  Or if I scrub it off with a loofah?  No.  This would be unethical if we consider a brain kept "alive" as a human being/person.  As a person, I am not a brain surrounded by a meat sack. 
 

xOrthodox4Christx

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It likely cannot think, it doesn't have senses to analyze and think critically. It's just a non-working mass. Unless it was "hooked up" with other elements, it probably couldn't function. I mean... what is there to think about if you cannot see, feel or hear. There's really no information to obtain if you don't/can't have senses. Plus, without blood the brain cannot be sustained.

That is, unless the scientists have developed a way to input information into the brain remotely, without the need of eyes, ears etc.

The brain by itself without other elements, is useless.
 

TheTrisagion

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hecma925 said:
I don't see the ethical violation.  They haven't created a functioning brain.  These are living cells that have arranged themselves in such a fashion.  Is it ethical that my skin cells constantly die and float in the air?  Or if I scrub it off with a loofah?  No.  This would be unethical if we consider a brain kept "alive" as a human being/person.  As a person, I am not a brain surrounded by a meat sack. 
I don't think its current status is an ethical violation, but the natural inclination will be to continue to develop the research in ways that it might be able to have some level of functionality, and that, I think, would have serious ethical issues associated with it.
 

hecma925

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TheTrisagion said:
hecma925 said:
I don't see the ethical violation.  They haven't created a functioning brain.  These are living cells that have arranged themselves in such a fashion.  Is it ethical that my skin cells constantly die and float in the air?  Or if I scrub it off with a loofah?  No.  This would be unethical if we consider a brain kept "alive" as a human being/person.  As a person, I am not a brain surrounded by a meat sack. 
I don't think its current status is an ethical violation, but the natural inclination will be to continue to develop the research in ways that it might be able to have some level of functionality, and that, I think, would have serious ethical issues associated with it.
Like if it were able to develop higher function and they placed the brain in a dead person's cranium?  That would be unethical. 
 

TheTrisagion

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Or if they developed higher function and stuck it in a mouse.

 

hecma925

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Hahahaha, that would be horrifying. :laugh:
 

xariskai

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TheTrisagion said:
Or if they developed higher function and stuck it in a mouse.

Already in the works.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1934590913000076
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/2013/05/09/human-brain-cells-alive-in-mouse-brains/
 

J Michael

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xariskai said:
TheTrisagion said:
Or if they developed higher function and stuck it in a mouse.


It's in the works.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1934590913000076
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/2013/05/09/human-brain-cells-alive-in-mouse-brains/
I always thought that the words of TheTrisagion were prophetic.

 

BryanS

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xOrthodox4Christx said:
It likely cannot think, it doesn't have senses to analyze and think critically. It's just a non-working mass. Unless it was "hooked up" with other elements, it probably couldn't function. I mean... what is there to think about if you cannot see, feel or hear. There's really no information to obtain if you don't/can't have senses. Plus, without blood the brain cannot be sustained.

That is, unless the scientists have developed a way to input information into the brain remotely, without the need of eyes, ears etc.

The brain by itself without other elements, is useless.
I have no mouth, and I must scream.  :-X
 

Stinky

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Yes

"If you don't have any end point, could you take embryos to 20 weeks? To 24 weeks? Is viability the only endpoint," says Hank Greely, a Stanford University bioethicist who otherwise praised the new guidelines. "Is viability even an endpoint?"
 
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