June 22, 2012
FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists Can Now Grow Functioning Liver From Stem Cells.
The researchers used stem cells created from human skin cells, then placed the cells on growth plates in a specially designed culture medium. Over the course of nine days, the cells started producing chemicals that a typical liver cell, otherwise known as a hepatocyte, would produce. They then added endothelial and mesenchymal cells—which form parts of blood vessels and other structural tissues within the body—to the mix, in the hope that they would be incorporated and begin to help the cells develop a structure akin to the liver.
The result was amazing: two days later, the researchers found the cells assembled into a 5-millimeter-long, three-dimensional lump. That lump was almost identical to something known as a liver bud—an early stage of liver development.
Stephen Green, take note.