Japanese researchers say that they have been able to grow a functional liver using stem cells.
Takanori Takebe of Yokohoma City University presented the work at the International Society for Stem Cell Research conference in Yokohoma last week. The team has yet to publish their results, but the work, if confirmed, represents a significant step in regenerative medicine.
“We’re looking to make cells from iPS stem cells, in particular liver cells,” Professor Hideki Taniguchi, the team’s head researcher, told Reuters. “But we’re not trying to just make cells, we’re looking to mix multiple types of cells in order to make an actual liver. “
The team took stem cells, derived from human skin cells, and placed them in a specially prepared culture medium.
Nine days later, the team detected the same chemicals that hepatocyte, or liver cells, would produce.
Endothelial and mesenchymal cells were introduced in the hope of creating a more organ-like environment. In two days, the tissue had developed into a 5-millimetre long, three-dimensional “liver bud.”
Article in Nature