Scientists successfully grew bioengineered organs in the lab from reprogrammed human skin cells and then successfully transplanted functional miniature livers into rats.
This experiment, which gives liver organs to animals, could lay the groundwork for future treatments for liver failure. This means the lives of more than 40,000 people each year in the United States. While there is a lot of work to be done before this technique can be applied directly to human patients, the researchers noted that while donor supply was strictly limited, it would support a future alternative to liver transplants, which are often incredibly expensive procedures.
Another positive result would be to use it to temporarily reduce liver function failure in patients. Especially to extend the lives of people who are on the waiting list for these vital organs as much as possible. It’s a situation that some 14,000 Americans face at any given time, and most of these patients are unable to receive a transplant. “Our long-term goal is to create organs that can replace organ donation, but in the near future I see this as a bridge for transplantation,” says pathologist Alejandro Soto-Gutiérrez of the University of Pittsburgh.
To enlarge their mini livers, the researchers took human skin cells donated by volunteers. And it returned them to a state of stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells where other types of cell models could be obtained. (Pluripotent:Existing in the early stages of a developing embryo, she isto all cell typesshe isA definition used for cells that are not yet differentiated with the ability to transmit.)
Mini livers were transplanted into five mice
The researchers then caused differentiation in cells with the help of hormones and other chemicals. And they ensured that they were liver cells cultured in the lab. While a human liver normally takes two years to mature from birth, the researchers grown their miniature analogues in just a few weeks, adding the enlarged cells to a rat liver scaffold that had been stripped of rat cells.
While previous experimental liver graft research included rodent cells in the scaffold, here the researchers used human stem cells to populate the functional tissue of the liver along with the vascular (vascular) system and bile duct network. (Graft: Any tissue in the body, another tissue in the bodyshe isIt is to be taken without the connection of vessels and nerves that feed this tissue in order to be transplanted into the eye.)
Mini livers appeared to be functional when transplanted into five mice. Four days later – at this point the animals were sacrificed and examined. Tests revealed that bioengineered livers secrete bile acids and urea. Human liver proteins in the blood of animals were another sign that the organs were working. However, these transplants did not work perfectly. In addition to thrombosis (clot formation) and ischemia (anemia), poor blood flow occurred in the graft. Furthermore, it reveals that there are still serious difficulties in properly attaching the grafts to an animal’s vascular network. However, this is still a notable achievement. For a short time, five rats lived their lives with miniature human livers. And this is not something that has not been proven before. This practice may one day bring us closer to using the same techniques for the benefit of human patients.
That day may be a long time away (researchers estimate maybe ten years). Although such designed transplantations (organ transplants) depend on a wide variety of future experiments, they must be shown to be safe for humans. Meanwhile, such methods, including the work led by the same lab last year, could enable such mini-organs to be used to study similar diseases and test different treatment options.
“I believe this is a very important step because we know it can be done,” Soto-Gutiérrez told the Inverse news site. “You can make a whole organ that can be functional from one cell of the skin.”