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Subject:  Re: Can lab-grown brains become conscious? Date:  11/1/2020  10:11 AM
Author:  adonsant2 Number:  27152 of 27161

Yeah, interesting. I don't really see the ethical dilemma with a glob of brain cells.

I think it's part of a large question regarding at what point does a collection of cells warrant having rights. Your rights kind of go away when you become braindead. Your family and the hospital can harvest your organs for spare parts without any input from you. So, a case could be made that the presence of a certain degree of brain function, such as consciousness (whatever that means), warrants some rights.

To flip it around, I don't see the ethical dilemma with a glob of undifferentiated cells. Other people, though, believe that it's a baby.

What are you up to these days professionally?

Lab work continues at a slightly slower rate due to the social distancing policies that are in place. I rarely see my coworkers in person, which continues to feel strange. On the bright side, there doesn't appear to have been any spread of Covid-19 on campus, so the policies seem to be working given the level of community spread. A lot of the work still focuses on neurodegenerative/neurological diseases such as ALS and nerve injury.

We talked about getting into some Covid-19 research, given the early reports of neurological symptoms. Some hypothesized that it might be infecting the brain, possibly through the olfactory system, and we thought about looking at viral trafficking in neurons. However, as more data came out, it became pretty clear the stroke/vascular injury was a better explanation. Most neurons don't express the receptor for the virus, and little virus has been found in the brain of deceased patients. Instead, blood vessels and pericytes (cells that associate with blood vessels in the brain) express the receptor at high levels.

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