Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Scientists create mini-brains using Neanderthals DNA in human cells

Neanderthals were the archaic humans that co-existed with modern humans in the European region before they went extinct 40,000 years ago. While the reason for their extinction is still speculated, scientists trying to understand their mystery lives prevailed during their existence. Such an understanding has led scientists to recreate their brains in tiny forms from DNA to understand them. Although the Neanderthals went extinct, it is seen that a fair amount of modern human ancestors crossbred with them, leading to the prevalence of their DNA in modern human populations. However, scientists at first did not believe this fact until in 2010 geneticists were able to completely extract Neanderthal DNA and studied them in detail.

To study them in detail, a new team of European researchers took this to a whole new level. The team created tiny blocks of brain tissue using stem cells from human beings having neanderthal DNA. By this scientists say we will be able to understand the cognitive abilities between modern humans and neanderthals. Although, early at this stage scientists are hoping they will succeed in this feat, but this is not the first time the team is doing this. Previously, the team had successfully extracted brian tissue from chimpanzee cells to understand the human brain-behavior to that of great apes.

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The study

The study was published in the cell stem reports that used cells from human-induced pluripotent stem cell initiative which contains cells from different humans most of them from the European region. We know this population may have the highest amount of neanderthal genes in the population. From then, they analyzed populations of individuals with Neanderthal genes and they were able to isolate 200 individuals that helped them recover 20 percent of the Neanderthal gene.

With the help of this, the team grew organoids of the brain which are 3D blobs of the brain to few millimeters just visible to the naked eye. They were nurtured in a petri dish with a growth factor. These organoids are the revolutionary products of cancer research that helps test drugs outside the body. We should also here understand that these are entirely not Neanderthal cells but a man cell with Neanderthal DNA.

For now, we need to wait for at least two years to get interesting data, experts say. Moreover, in the future, we will see scientists synthesizing more organoids like skins and intestines to understand neanderthals more. This will enable us more to understand their diets, their skin colors, and other traits about them in detail. More studies in the future will definitely enable us to know more about our counterparts.

Source: CNN

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