It has been an age since Mary Shelley told us the story of Frankenstein. Since 1818, the world has been aware of a man-made being that can be created in the laboratory and expected to do man's bidding. Now, uncannily, the human race is one step closer to creating Frankenstein's monster in real life.
A research team in Germany had been trying to replicate the human brain in a laboratory to observe why our species is more intelligent than all others, and they have finally succeeded. In a big breakthrough, they have managed to grow human and ape brain parts from scratch, in an effort to study their differences in development.
The creation was made possible by tricking human and ape white blood cells to produce stem cells and grow into tiny and simplified brains, known as organdies. "These new technologies are simply spectacular. We're learning a heck of a lot," says neurologist Louis Reichardt from Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.
"We've been a bit frustrated working so many years with the traditional tools. Now, we have these exciting tools that are helping us to understand which genes are important," states director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Simon Fisher.
The brains have shown a capability of growing for up to a year, giving scientists ample time of observe their development. These observations can lead to many more such discoveries and even the possibility of cloning complete humans in the laboratory.
So far, studies have indicated that the early development of the human brain makes it grow larger and more efficient than the ape brain. The human specimen grew into a mature brain in a time span that is 50 percent more than that of the ape brain. However, the results are not conclusive and there is still huge scope for research.
This breakthrough is the first step towards unlocking all the secrets of the human brain. Maybe it will lead to creating a man-made man, similar to legends. Only time can show the possibilities.