Human tissue implanted in rat brains in Stanford psychiatric study

Human tissue implanted in rat brains in Stanford psychiatric study

Scientists involved in researching the treatment of psychiatric illnesses have recently made a leap forward. The experiments recently conducted at Stanford University have seen the successful transplantation of human tissue in rat brains where new neural connections grew and stimulated increased awareness in the test subjects.  

After more than two decades of research, this recent advance has been the most successful attempt at getting human neurons to thrive within the brains of other animals yet. 

During the testing, rats were exposed to different stimuli such as a flashing light or a breeze blowing toward the rats’ whiskers. Each stimulus correlated to a different action. For instance, the flashing of blue light indicated to the rats that there was water available. After about two weeks, the human neurons became electrically active when the blue light flashed and sent the rats straight to the water spout.  

This experiment is the first step to better understanding and treating psychiatric diseases in humans. Sergiu Pașca, project lead and professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, explains that their mission is to understand psychiatric diseases at the biological level so that they can find effective therapies. 

Previously, scientists relied on organoids or “mini-brains in a controlled environment” to provide them with essential data. However, organoids had their limitations since there was no blood supply or sensory input so that they could develop further.  

This led to Stanford scientists implanting organoids into rats. While the host accepted the new foreign tissue and made new neural connections, there wasn’t a marked improvement in the memory or cognitive functioning of the rodents.  

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