“NEANDERTHAL BRAINS” GROWN IN LABSJune 23, 2020
Now here's one that went right to the top of my high octane suspicion list, if for no other reason than that I seldom believe the public narratives put out there for bizarre scientific projects. In this case, the narrative strikes me as a case of being :in search of an explanation that will sound plausible," when the real reasons might be very different. Again, that's for the reader to decide, but I'll offer my own high octane speculation in a moment.
The story - courtesy B.H. - concerns scientists who have cultured small brain cells from Neanderthal DNA:
As I indicated, what's interesting to me about this story is the explanation being offered for why scientists are culturing "mini-brains" made with Neanderthal DNA:
The evidence that early humans interbred with Neanderthals emerged in 2010 after scientists led by geneticist Svante Pääbo pioneered methods to extract, sequence and analyze ancient DNA from Neanderthal bones and mapped their genome in detail.Now, a team of European researchers has taken that science to the next level, growing blobs of brain tissue from human stem cells that contain Neanderthal DNA and proteins, with the hope they will shed more light on how Neanderthals relate to modern humans....Camp was keen to stress that these were not "lab-grown Neanderthal brains.""These are human cells, they're not Neanderthal cells but human cells that have Neanderthal DNA naturally inside them," Camp said."This is totally different to Jurassic Park. It's more about studying the mechanism than try to recreate something (that no longer exists.) "Neurons in lab-grown brain organoids, sometimes called mini brains, have been shown to make connections and generate some electrical activity — but they don't yet come anywhere close to a real adult human brain.In the future, other body-part tissues could be cultured and studied in this way to see how Neanderthal traits might have shaped our own, Camp said.For example, Neanderthal genes in the stem cells that have links with hair and skin color could be used to explore these traits, given that it's already possible to generate skin organoids that have sprouted hair.Similarly, it could potentially be used to create intestine organoids to look at how sets of enzymes process food, giving information on Neanderthal diet. (Emphasis added)