Transplantation of Human Brain Organoids: Revisiting the Science and Ethics of Brain Chimeras

Cell Stem Cell. 2019 Oct 3;25(4):462-472. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2019.09.002.


Recent demonstrations of human brain organoid transplantation in rodents have accentuated ethical concerns associated with these entities, especially as they relate to potential "humanization" of host animals. Consideration of established scientific principles can help define the realistic range of expected outcomes in such transplantation studies. This practical approach suggests that augmentation of discrete brain functions in transplant hosts is a more relevant ethical question in the near term than the possibility of "conscious" chimeric animals. We hope that this framework contributes to a balanced approach for proceeding with studies involving brain organoid transplantation and other forms of human-animal brain chimeras.

Keywords: brain organoid; chimera; consciousness; enhancement; ethics; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Tissue Transplantation / ethics*
  • Chimera / physiology*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ethics, Research
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Organoids / physiology
  • Organoids / transplantation*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Rats
  • Transplantation, Heterologous