Breaking News
March 22, 2019 - Alzheimer’s patients using antiepileptic drugs have twice the risk of pneumonia, study shows
March 22, 2019 - Skin diseases may be more prevalent than previously thought
March 22, 2019 - Overall rates of death from breast cancer are falling across the EU
March 22, 2019 - Novel plasmid could hold key to control of mosquito-borne illness
March 22, 2019 - Female Emergency Physicians Paid Less Than Males
March 22, 2019 - Estimated average glucose (eAG): MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
March 22, 2019 - Experimental drug could be new option for type 2 diabetes
March 22, 2019 - Five Things To Know About The Electronic Health Records Mess
March 22, 2019 - TMJ disorders could be treated with tissue-engineered implants after successful animal study
March 22, 2019 - Team-based approach is key to successful care of pregnant women with heart failure
March 22, 2019 - Study identifies gene variant associated with accelerated cellular aging
March 21, 2019 - Salk scientists show how background noise from neurons can interrupt focused attention
March 21, 2019 - New class of drugs could help treat patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer
March 21, 2019 - Tecentriq Approved for Small Cell Lung Cancer
March 21, 2019 - Adipocyte glucocorticoid receptors play a role in developing steroid diabetes
March 21, 2019 - Climate change can affect nutrient content of crops, harming human health
March 21, 2019 - Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health’ Surprise! Fixing Surprise Medical Bills Is Harder Than it Looks
March 21, 2019 - Chemistry researchers patent new method for making anti-leukemia compounds
March 21, 2019 - UIC scientists identify hidden proteins in bacteria
March 21, 2019 - New Australian drug trial achieves remarkable results in patients with acute myeloid leukemia
March 21, 2019 - Females live longer when they have help raising offspring
March 21, 2019 - How did orthodontists sell orthodontics?
March 21, 2019 - In the Spotlight: From dietitian to physician assistant student
March 21, 2019 - The CRISPR Revolution: What You Need to Know
March 21, 2019 - FDA Chief Calls For Stricter Scrutiny Of Electronic Health Records
March 21, 2019 - Combined glucocorticoid and antioxidant therapy could benefit premature babies
March 21, 2019 - Low levels of certain eye proteins could serve as predictor for Alzheimer’s
March 21, 2019 - Post-traumatic holocaust survivors transmit negative views on aging to offspring
March 21, 2019 - City of Hope receives $7.5 million in grant awards to study cutaneous T cell lymphoma
March 21, 2019 - New video game-led training device helps stroke survivors regain arm mobility
March 21, 2019 - Compounds in coffee could slow prostate cancer growth
March 21, 2019 - New mobile DNA element in Wolbachia may contribute to improved disease control strategies
March 21, 2019 - Phase 2 Clinical Trial of Bermekimab Shows Potential New Standard of Care for Treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa, Including Significant Pain Reduction without Antibiotics
March 21, 2019 - More than one-third of patients risk major bleeding by doubling up on blood thinners
March 21, 2019 - A skeptical look at popular diets: Thumbs up for Mediterranean
March 21, 2019 - PTSD After Cardiac Arrest Predicts More Heart Trouble
March 21, 2019 - Role of immunological imprinting in elicitation of new antibodies
March 21, 2019 - Breast cancer relapse predictor tool may soon be a reality
March 21, 2019 - New computer program developed by TGen lights up cancer-causing genetic mutations
March 21, 2019 - FDA warns two breast implant makers for failure to comply with post-approval study requirements
March 21, 2019 - Butler Hospital receives COBRE grant to enhance research on neuropsychiatric illnesses
March 21, 2019 - Majority of osteoporosis clinical practice guidelines ignore patients’ voices
March 21, 2019 - Generic messages don’t help patients to lose weight
March 21, 2019 - Eisai and Imbrium Therapeutics Announce U.S. FDA Filing Acceptance of New Drug Application for Lemborexant for the Treatment of Insomnia
March 21, 2019 - Two-drug combos using popular calcium channel blocker show superiority in lowering BP
March 21, 2019 - First-in-human pilot study shows positive results for ‘bacteria-phobic’ catheter
March 21, 2019 - Itamar Medical launches next-generation WatchPAT system for home sleep apnea testing
March 21, 2019 - Study estimates health and economic impacts of healthy food prescriptions
March 21, 2019 - Detecting fungal disease in crops with multispectral imaging system
March 21, 2019 - MIT announces creation of the Alana Down Syndrome Center
March 21, 2019 - Next-generation LVAD device clinically superior, safer for heart failure patients
March 21, 2019 - Allergan Announces FDA Approval of Avycaz (ceftazidime and avibactam) for Pediatric Patients
March 21, 2019 - Mutations in noncoding genes could play big role in regulating cancer, study finds
March 21, 2019 - A medical student’s thoughts on Match Day
March 21, 2019 - Are eggs good or bad for you?
March 21, 2019 - New analysis reveals precision oncology insights for colorectal cancer
March 21, 2019 - Pollutants appear to weaken immune system and increase pathogen virulence
March 21, 2019 - Researchers develop and validate scale for rating severity of mononucleosis
March 21, 2019 - Scientists identify generation of key immune response in mice on introducing solid food
March 21, 2019 - New nanomaterial could restore internal structure of damaged bones
March 21, 2019 - Selective destruction of prostate tumor as effective as complete prostate removal
March 21, 2019 - 2011 to 2015 Saw Increase in Psychiatric ED Visits for Youth
March 21, 2019 - Tapeworm drug targets common vulnerability in tumor cells
March 21, 2019 - WVU researcher discovers higher suicide rate among Medicaid-insured youth
March 21, 2019 - Off the beaten path for global health residency
March 21, 2019 - European Parliament’s report calls on EU to develop policies to regulate endocrine-disrupting chemicals
March 21, 2019 - Women with undiagnosed diabetes in pregnancy more likely to experience stillbirths
March 21, 2019 - Fish consumption can help prevent asthma, study reveals
March 21, 2019 - Royal Holloway professors to lead new to research into curing Neurofibromatosis type 1
March 21, 2019 - NSF offers grant to improve treatment approaches for pelvic organ prolapse
March 21, 2019 - Your Apple Watch Might Help Spot a Dangerous Irregular Heartbeat
March 21, 2019 - Research team uncovers critical new clues about what goes awry in autistic brains
March 21, 2019 - From March Madness to medicine with help from mentors
March 21, 2019 - Mental health disorders among young adults may be on the increase
March 21, 2019 - New study examines smarter automatic defibrillator
March 21, 2019 - UC Riverside research shows how natural selection favors cheaters
March 21, 2019 - Mother’s diet during pregnancy can impact lung-specific genes of her offspring
March 21, 2019 - AeroForm Tissue Expanders makes breast reconstruction after mastectomy more comfortable
March 21, 2019 - New project focuses on creating more responsive, intuitive prosthetics
March 21, 2019 - New case study describes adolescent patient with rapid-onset schizophrenia and Bartonella infection
Study to explore bioethics of brain organoids

Study to explore bioethics of brain organoids

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Research scientists around the world are now able to investigate the structural, cellular, and developmental intricacies of the human brain using bioengineered stem cell-based models called organoids. But the ethics to help guide researchers and regulators lag behind the technological capability to “grow” brains in a petri dish.

That is about to change as a group of bioethicists and scientists chart the unexplored territory of neuroethics, which is quickly emerging from the ability to bioengineer models of the brain. The study, called “The Brainstorm Project,” will be led by Insoo Hyun, PhD, professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Hyun characterizes the project as a first step toward building a philosophical framework on which to base government policy and regulations.

“This is a new area of science for which we currently have few ideas on how to approach or map what works in terms of government and institutional regulation,” Hyun says.

Launched this September in partnership with investigators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University and Stanford University, the two-year project is funded by a $569,410 grant from National Institutes of Health Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative.

“The organoid researchers in our Brainstorm Project are at the cutting edge of this science and this project is a novel opportunity to track their studies in terms of the emerging ethical issues,” Hyun said. They are among the world’s scientific leaders in this new field of neuroscience and are eager to explore ethical dimensions of their work alongside bioethicists.”

The Brainstorm Project Working Group consists of bioethicists Hyun and his Case Western Reserve co-investigator, Aaron Goldenberg, PhD, MPH, associate professor and director of research for the Department of Bioethics, and co-director of the Case Western Reserve Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law, along with Jeantine Lunshof, a bioethicist in the Church Lab at Harvard Medical School.

The bioethicists will interact weekly with scientists, including making laboratory visits to follow brain organoid experiments from the beginning, middle and end of studies at the collaborating universities.

“There are three major areas of organoid research,” Hyun said. “In the first area, bioengineers try to maintain and grow the brain models for extended periods–months or years. They experiment with artificial circulatory and vascular systems over time until the organoids reach further maturity.”

The second area of research consists of making more accurate brain organoids that have all the relevant cell types found in the natural human brain. The third area of investigation consists of performing signal readings to see how different brain regions function.

Multiple workshops will take place in year two of the project to explore findings in each of the three areas. The summary workshop will be held at Case Western Reserve, after which the team will make their report to NIH.

“An organoid is not a human subject, according to federal regulations,” Hyun explained. “An organoid is an organ model in a petri dish. However, while people may view growing models of other organs, such as kidneys, in one way, they may view the idea of growing a model of a human brain more cautiously.”

According to Hyun, close interaction between neuroscientists and bioethicists is something the BRAIN Initiative has wanted to accomplish. Hyun’s approach–essentially co-developing a new field–is a focused effort to avoid the “silos,” which are common in scientific fields.

Examining a range of ethics issues in this nascent field will help ensure public trust in science, as well, Hyun believes. The Brainstorm Project’s ultimate goal is to develop greater awareness and understanding between scientists and ethicists and–beyond the duration of the project–to provide guidance for future management of ethical issues that may be unique to new areas of brain modeling research.

The Brainstorm Working Group partners from other universities are:

  • Jeantine Lunshof, PhD, a research scientist who studies conceptual and normative questions in the context of genome editing and an Ethics Consultant to the Church Lab at Harvard Medical School.
  • George Church, PhD, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT, specializing in directed evolution of molecules, polymers, and whole genomes toward creating tools with applications in regenerative medicine and bio-production of chemicals.
  • Paola Arlotta, PhD, Harvard University Stem Cell Institute faculty member and co-director of the institute’s Neuroscience Program, specializing in molecular laws that govern the birth, differentiation, and assembly of clinically relevant neuron types in the cerebral cortex.
  • Sergiu Pasca, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine and director of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute Stem Cells Core, specializing in groundbreaking studies on neural development.


Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles