In DepthEvolution

Neanderthal brain organoids come to life

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Science  22 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6395, pp. 1284
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6395.1284

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Scientists for the first time have grown Neanderthal "minibrains" in lab dishes. A team led by geneticist Alysson Muotri at the University of California, San Diego, reported at a conference that with the help of the genome editor CRISPR they modified a stem cell to have a Neanderthal version of a gene that is involved with brain development in modern humans. They coaxed these stem cells to grow into pea-size "organoids" with cells that make up the cortex, the front part of the brain. The Neanderthal organoids differed in shape and function from ones made identically with the intact modern human gene.