Japanese researchers create tiny human livers from stem cells


Graphic by Raffy De Guzman

Japanese researchers use human stem cells to create tiny rudimentary livers that can make human liver proteins.The liver buds, as they are called, didn’t turn into complete livers, but medical experts say the method holds much promise in a field that has seen many failed attempts. In a study published in the journal Nature, a team of Japanese scientists turned human liver cells from stem cells and began to try making replacement livers. The cells, which they grew in petri dishes along with blood vessel cells, spontaneously assembled into three-dimensional liver buds. When scientists transplanted the cells into mice, the little organs grew and metabolized drugs as human livers do. Scientists though caution the findings are still basic research and studies on humans are years away. Ever since researchers discovered how to get human stem cells, there have been experiments to use these cells for replacement tissues and organs. These efforts did not succeed.

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