Oct. 30, 2019

Two neuroscientists have warned that fellow scientists are “perilously close” to crossing the ethical red line of growing mini-brains or organoids in the laboratory that can perceive or feel things.


  • Organoids are a group of cells grown in laboratories into three-dimensional, miniature structures that mimic the cell arrangement of a fully-grown organ.

  • They are tiny (typically the size of a pea) organ-like structures that do not achieve all the functional maturity of human organs but often resemble the early stages of a developing tissue.

  • Organoids are grown in the laboratory using stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). Stem cells are provided with nutrients and other specific molecules to grow and become cells resembling a specific organ.

  • Present status: Organoids of the brain, small intestine, kidney, heart, stomach, eyes, liver, pancreas, prostate, salivary glands, and inner ear to name a few have already been developed in the laboratory.

  • Benefits: Since the organoids closely resemble mature tissues, they can be used for studying the complex arrangements of cells in three-dimension and their function in detail, and understanding how cells assemble into organs. Organoids can be used to study the safety and efficacy of new drugs

  • Arguments against: Organoids do not have sensory inputs and sensory connections from the brain are limited. Isolated regions of the brain cannot communicate with other brain regions or generate motor signals. Thus, the possibility of consciousness or other higher-order perceptive properties emerging seems extremely remote. 

Source : The Hindu