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“Minibrains” May Be the Future of Drug Testing. They Also Pose Difficult Ethical Questions.

Image of a scientist swabbing a petri dish.

Minibrains sound like science fiction, but they have already led to new discoveries in the medical sciences. NPR recently reported on the efforts of scientists who are growing small and “extremely rudimentary versions of an actual human brain” by transforming human skin cells into neural stem cells and letting them grow into structures like those found in the human brain. These tissues are called cerebral organoids but are more popularly known as “minibrains.”

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