General, Research, Technology

Scientists were able to turn the spleen into a liver inside a living mouse. And it works!

In case of refusal of one or another organ in a personDoctors usually transplant a new organ from a donor, if possible. For example, liver and kidney transplant operations are now quite common. However, doctors often do not have much time to search for a donor, in addition, there is a risk that the “alien” organ may not fully work, or the body simply will not accept it. Another difficulty is that the donor organ must dock with different vessels and ducts leaving it, otherwise there will be no sense from it. Scientists are constantly developing new methods of transplantation, and Chinese biologists have decided to go even further and turn one organ of a living organism into another.

The liver can be created on the basis of another organ.

A group of biologists was able to successfully grow a new organ right inside the patient's body - a laboratory mouse. To do this, they underwent transformation spleen and turned her into the working liver. The essence of the experiment was to eliminatean obstacle in the form of the need for docking with vessels, as occurs when an organ is transplanted from a donor. Instead, scientists decided to take the necessary vessel frame for a new liver from an existing organ (spleen), which is not vital.

When a spleen is removed, it’s likeas a rule, does not suffer from serious illnesses, in contrast to the consequences of liver removal. Therefore, biologists decided that one organ could be sacrificed in favor of another.

How the spleen was turned into a liver

At first, the researchers moved the organ a little the skin to monitor the state of the spleen in real time. When moving it was not damaged and continued to fulfill its function. Further, biologists began to transform the spleen into the liver: for this, they reduced the activity of immunity and treated the spleen with an extract of a mouse tumor (sarcoma). With its help, the protein of the intercellular substance necessary for building the liver is secreted.

As a result of processing the extract, the spleen increased in size almost doubled and began to weigh much more. Nevertheless, this did not affect the work of other organs and the health of mice, according to scientists. After the spleen increased, biologists began to populate it with liver cells. At the same time, they tested how their own liver cells of the mouse, the cells of the liver of another mouse, human liver cells, as well as artificially grown liver cells take root. As a result, all cells were able to take root, but the mouse’s own liver cells occupied most of the new body. With their help, it turned out to form the characteristic structure of the liver (yes, right in the spleen!), As well as the bile ducts.

Spleen transformed into the liver (left) and normal

After completing the experiment, the scientists checked, wellwhether the transformed spleen functions as a liver. To their surprise, the new organ was able to synthesize fats and produce blood proteins, as an ordinary animal or human liver does. The final stage of the experiment was removal of 90% of the real liver in some experimental mice, they all survived.

Is it possible to grow a liver?

Biologists have come to the conclusion that, with the right degreepreparations from the spleen can really get a working liver. In mice, this procedure did not cause severe side effects. However, they still have to check that the cells of the new liver do not begin to die in the absence of substances secreted by the intestinal wall, which the ordinary liver receives through the blood. Therefore, it is too early to talk about the application of a new method of transforming organs in humans. Nevertheless, if the experiments go smoothly, subsequently, the transformation of one organ into another can become an alternative to a donor transplant. Like printed liver on a 3D printer.

Now liver transplant directly depends on professional qualitiesspecialists and the body itself. Currently, there are several types of organ transplants for humans, which can be carried out both from the person (such as a skin transplant) and the donor. During the preparation of an organ for transplantation, a team of clinicians must correctly remove the organ from the body and prepare it for transportation, which can take a considerable amount of time and significantly affect the possibility of organ transplantation.

Another way to solve the problem of lack of donors can be an artificial liver. In 2019, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh for the first time in history raised in the laboratory human liver.

Specialists took human skin cells andgenetically modified them, creating stem cells from them. In parallel, scientists took the rat’s liver and removed its own cells from there, leaving only its “frame” from the organ. After that, the previously obtained stem cells were implanted into a rat liver. It is not yet possible to transplant such an organ (too few studies), but the authors of the work do not exclude the further use of an artificial liver as a test "testing ground" for new drugs.