Japanese biologists from Yokohama City University have reported the creation of a mini-liver grown in vitro (in vitro) from induced pluripotent stem cells.
Project Manager Hideki Taniguchi (HidekiTaniguchi) explained that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were obtained by remodeling adult skin cells. After cultivating iPSCs in a special medium, using endothelial and mesenchymal stem cells stimulating organ regeneration, the researchers were able to grow full-fledged “parts” of the liver. This mini-organ corresponded to the early stage of liver development.
Let the mini-liver created by biologists is still small(only 5 mm) and cannot function as a full-fledged organ, however, it has blood vessels, produces albumin and is involved in the decomposition of ammonia.
Based on rodentsexperimental study, it was found that the transplanted mice mini-organ had the ability to break down and absorb a number of drugs that can only be metabolized by the human liver.
Based on the words of the research leader, the processcreating a mini-liver is time-consuming: it requires not only precise time for the introduction of endothelial and mesenchymal stem cells, but also strict adherence to the conditions for growing cell cultures and the formation of a mini-organ.
Experts suggest that in the near futurethey will be able, by assessing the risks of tumorigenicity of iPSCs, to adapt their proposed method of growing the liver in humans. As the authors hope, their advanced technology will help temporarily replace or completely restore the non-functioning liver of patients.
Currently, biologists have proposed using grown mini-organs to detect toxicity when screening potential pharmacological agents.