Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Mini-Brain

PostedOctober 16, 2016

Download File (mp3)

Anchor Lede: It sounds like the premise of a Halloween story…a lab growing thousands of mini brains. But the new technique actually holds the promise of curing diseases.

Randy Atkins: Starting with just a tiny tissue sample, Diane Hoffman-Kim, a professor of medical science and engineering at Brown University, is growing small balls of brain cells.

Diane Hoffman-Kim: About the size of a poppy seed. It’s got all the same cells as a brain, and it’s got the same squishiness as a brain, and it’s got significantly the same electrical connections as a brain.

Randy Atkins: They can’t think, and don’t even look like a real brain, but because thousands can be made from one sample, they will allow lots of brain research.

Diane Hoffman-Kim: Let scientists basically find out which are truly the best ideas and which are the ones that need to be discarded before you go on.

Randy Atkins: Hoffman-Kim says the mini-brains can be used to test drugs, reactions to stress, and more…potentially using a patients’ own cells to personalize therapies. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.