Scientists at Yokohama City University conducted a scientific experiment with stem cells. The result was overwhelming: scientists managed to grow a tiny, about 5mm in diameter, human liver. As NHK reports, scientists themselves did not expect such an outcome.
When Hideki Taniguchi and Takanori Takebe started experimenting with mice, they decided to combine induced stem cells, embryonal connective tissue and umbilical blood. The cells self-organised into a structure similar to human liver. When transplanted into mice, the tissue continued transforming and in two days grew into an organ identical by chemical composition to human liver.
Scientists suggest that a new mini-organ can perform all main functions of liver: protein secretion, detoxication and metabolism. There is still no 100% certainty though, as serious research might take years, the next step being the transplantation of a working organ to an animal with liver failure. Scientists are looking forward to receiving convincing proof that the lab-grown liver can be successfully transplanted.
It remains a question how long it might take for a big organ to grow and which detox functions it could perform. Answers to these questions are expected not earlier than 2019. However, the Japanese experiment is believed to trigger off a revolution in transplantation.
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