Intensive research on and with organoids has been conducted for several years. Organoids are organ structures that are created in vitro with the help of stem cells, i.e. outside the body. However, these are not fully developed organs. A great deal of hope and expectation is placed upon organoids: from disease modeling to drug testing and replacement of diseased tissue. Brain organoids in particular promise substantial progress for research and therapy, particularly since neurological and psychiatric diseases can usually not be investigated on animal models.
In recent years, reports on the subject of brain organoids have sometimes evoked associations with the creation of "artificial humans" or fully functional "mini-brains" in the Petri dish. Public knowledge of the fundamentals of this relatively young research, its methods and goals are still very limited. Consequently, corresponding concerns and exaggerated expectations concerning the immediate therapeutic benefit of this research can easily be voiced.
A statement to summarize the scientific background of research on brain organoids, as well as ethical and legal questions in this area, shall be prepared. The goal is to facilitate an informed discussion of this research and its applications.
ML = Member of the Leopoldina