A new experiment out of the University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany is raising more concerns after scientists said they grew human brain organoids, or small versions of human organs, that began spontaneously growing eyes, according to Science Alert.
Scientists at the university said the rudimentary eyes recognized light and sent information to the brain.
Though the discovery is disturbing, some scientists celebrated the discovery as a new avenue for research on human development.
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Here’s more from the report:
On tiny, human-derived brain organoids grown in dishes, two bilaterally symmetrical optic cups were seen to grow, mirroring the development of eye structures in human embryos. This incredible result will help us to better understand the process of eye differentiation and development, as well as eye diseases.
“Our work highlights the remarkable ability of brain organoids to generate primitive sensory structures that are light sensitive and harbor cell types similar to those found in the body,” said neuroscientist Jay Gopalakrishnan of University Hospital Düsseldorf in Germany.
Other concerning experiments involving human brains have been reported in scientific journals in recent years. For example, in 2020, scientists at the University of California San Diego told Nature they recorded brain waves from human brain organoids that they grew in the lab for six to eight months.
“… hundreds of miniature human brains, the size of sesame seeds, float in Petri dishes, sparking with electrical activity,” the report began.
Alysson Muotri, director of the stem cell program at the university, told Nature that the brain wave patterns from the organoids looked “a lot like what you’d see with a preterm infant.”
These reports and others have people asking serious questions about the ethics of such experiments.
“… stop and consider what’s being done,” Hot Air weekend editor Jazz Shaw responded. “We’re growing brains that begin from actual human brain cells. And after they grow for a while they produce brainwaves. Doesn’t that mean that they’re thinking? Or at least something close to thinking? Even worse… are they dreaming?”
Shaw wondered if lab-grown human brains are capable of thinking or, from a religious aspect, if they have a soul.
“If you don’t care for the idea of a soul, how about just consciousness? If so, there are very serious questions over what right we have to go tampering with these brains, to say nothing of destroying them when the experiment is finished,” Shaw asked.
Others have raised similar questions about experiments involving human-animal hybrids and the creation of three-parent human embryos. In April, an international team of scientists published an article in the journal “Cell” describing how they created embryos with human and monkey cells to explore the possibility of growing organs for people who need organ transplants.
Currently, U.S. law prohibits taxpayer funding for such research, but some federal lawmakers are proposing a ban on the creation of certain human-animal hybrids, or chimeras, altogether.