(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are at the cutting edge of bioengineering organ tissues.
In 2006, they implanted into human beings the first fully laboratory-engineered organ-bladder tissue. Now researchers have for the first time successfully engineered miniature, functional livers from human liver cells.
Engineering organs is not new, and a liver has been “grown” before, but with animal, not human cells. The researchers used an existing matrix of connective tissue and blood vessels onto which they “seeded” a mixture of cells including human liver precursor cells. These cells divided and grew around the existing matrix, and ultimately began to function like human liver cells.
The authors hope that this approach will be a step forward in liver bioengineering, and they plan to test if these livers can function after transplantation into an animal model.
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