Neanderthal mini-brain in vitro
Neanderthal mini-brain in vitro

Neanderthal mini-brain in vitro: the scientists have grown the brain tissue of an ancient person

Neanderthal mini-brain in vitro

An amazing experiment was carried out by the genetics. In the laboratory, they were able to grow a miniature brain that contains the Neanderthal DNA. In 2010, the first assumptions were appeared, and a little later, an evidence of the fact that an early person could interbreed with Neanderthals. A geneticist Svante Payabo was the first scientist to develop a unique method for isolating, sequencing and analyzing the DNA of an ancient person.

It was isslated from the bones of ancient people and mapped to the genome. The next level of the scientific research is related to the cultivation of the brain tissue of an ancient man. For that, the human stem cells with the Neanderthal DNA were needed.


Grayson Camp, a head of the research team at the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel, Switzerland, said that he and his colleagues were interested in studying the Neanderthal genome when there is access to stem cells.

Such a study proved the concept that allows us to understand the cognitive and other differences between the ancient man and the contemporary ones. In the experiment, tissue from chimpanzee cells was used.

That is another aspect of the study that allows us to understand how the human brain has changed from the monkey’s brain, as well as the stem cells from different people. They were taken from a live biobank, which stores human cells with a high probability of the presence of the Neanderthal genes. 200 people have about 20% of these genes.


Then the team managed to grow brain organoids from these cells. These are three-dimensional balls of brain tissue, only a few millimeters wide and visible to the naked eye. Organoids are able to mimic the state of various organs in their infancy. Now organoids have found a new use.

New brain cells showed that ancient man was different from its predecessors in the Jurassic period. But the research on the organoids will continue further. The scientists go to cultivate and grow other parts of the body of an ancient man in order to know our distant ancestors better.