Researchers Grow Miniature, Working Human Livers in the Lab

Monday, November 1, 2010 - 09:30 in Biology & Nature

Research presented at Sunday's American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston marked a preliminary but potentially groundbreaking development in the search for the lab-engineered organs of the future. Scientists at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have engineered the first functioning miniature livers from human liver cells ever created in a lab setting. The technique could open up new avenues for engineering a range of vital tissues in the lab. To create the mini livers, the team took animal livers and washed out the animal cells with a mild detergent, a method known as "decellularization" that leaves behind only the cellular scaffold that gives the organ its structure. They then piped human cells into place via the natural vessel network that remains in the liver after the decellularization process. Connected to a bioreactor - a machine that mimics the conditions inside a...

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