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Miniature Human Livers Grown In Lab

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Miniature Human Livers Grown In Lab

Scientists move one step closer to growing real human organs in the laboratory…

scientists grow miniture human livers in lab 300x239 Miniature Human Livers Grown In Lab

Minature HUman Liver Grown In Lab

In another world first, scientists from the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have grown a miniature liver in the laboratory using human stem cells.

Experts hope that the breakthrough will eventually lead to the creation of a life-size working model that could be implanted into humans.

To create the liver the team started with a ferret liver. The organ was washed in a harsh detergent which strips all the cells leaving behind a matrix of collagen and tiny blood vessels. Immature liver stem cells from a human were then injected into the frame.

After a week in the bioreactor soaking up a mixture of nutrients and oxygen scientist noted widespread cell growth and even ‘signs of some normal functions in the tiny organ.’ [BBC]

Although the findings are promising, researchers said they are still unsure if growing a fully functional liver will be possible. Lead researcher Professor Shay Soker told the BBC:

We are excited about the possibilities this research represents, but must stress that were at an early stage, and many technical hurdles must be overcome before it could benefit patients

Not only must we learn how to grow billions of liver cells at one time in order to engineer livers large enough for patients, we must determine whether these organs are safe to use. [BBC]

But if the Wake Forest team’s previous successes are anything to go by, the chances are better than ever. The team has already managed to growing a working human bladder in the lab, and last year they developed a working liver from animal cells. The recent breakthrough in using human stem cells to construct organs was simply the next logical step. The team are now preparing to implant the livers into animals to see if the work.

Pedro Baptista, PhD, PharmD, also heading the research explained that a human liver has around billion cells, where as their experiment only ‘seeded’ 100 million.

But he did note that the goal is only to create a liver 30% the normal size as that is the minimum required to sustain life.

Baptista and Soker reported the findings at this weeks annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston.


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