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New Miniature Brains Could Help Advance Neuroscience

Scientists have made positive strides with the use of miniature brains. Consisting of a ball of brain cells that are the size of the head of a ballpoint pin allows scientists to work on a brain the size of a two month old brain. This allows them to do studies on neurons, how to effectively use electrical signals and to produce a primitive thinking pattern, without the risk to patients.With the technology that is available, scientists are also finding it is possible to recreate specific diseases like Parkinson’s. This means advanced research can be done with these conditions and ultimately help neuroscientists to combat them. This could help them to make significant progress in new treatments in the near future.

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‘Mini-brains’ could revolutionise drug research and reduce animal use

Miniature brains that show electrical activity akin to “a primitive type of thinking” could revolutionise how some drugs are tested and reduce the need for animals in research, according to scientists who have developed the structures.

Each ball of human brain cells – in all about the size of the head of a ballpoint pen – “represents more or less a two-month-old brain” of a foetus, Prof Thomas Hartung of Johns Hopkins University said, presenting the work at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference . The cultures also show “spontaneous electrophysiological activity” – their neurons zap off electrical signals to each other without prompting.

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