Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Human liver created from stem cells by Japanese scientists

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Japanese scientists have created a functional human liver from stem cells. Created from skin and blood, the researchers say their success points to a future where in-demand organs for transplantation could be made in a laboratory. While the technique looks "very promising, there is much unknown and it will take years before it could be applied in regenerative medicine," Dusko, a stem cell expert at King's College London says.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Illic, not directly involved in the research still praised its success. "The promise of an off-the-shelf liver seems much closer than one could hope even a year ago,"

International researchers have been studying stem cells from various sources for more than a decade, in the hopes of transforming them into a wide variety of other kinds of cell to treat a range of health conditions.

There are two main forms of stem cells: Embryonic stem cells, which are harvested from embryos, and reprogrammed "induced pluripotent stem cells" (iPS cells), often taken from skin or blood.

Stem cells harvested from aborted embryos present insurmountable moral and ethical problems, since their use requires the destruction of a child. However, the stem cells in this case were taken from adult blood, and show the promise these cells provide is excellent.

There is a worldwide, critical shortage of donor organs for treating patients with liver, kidney, heart and other organ failure.

The Japanese team, based at the Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, used iPS cells to make three different cell types, that would normally combine in the natural formation of a human liver in a developing embryo, and mixed them together to see if they would grow.

They found the cells did grow and began to form three-dimensional structures called "liver buds," which is a collection of liver cells with the potential to develop into a full organ.

Transplanted into mice, researchers found the human liver buds had matured. The human blood vessels connected to the mouse host's blood vessels and began to perform many of the functions of mature human liver cells.

"To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating the generation of a functional human organ from pluripotent stem cells," the researchers wrote in the journal Nature.

Study leader Takanori Takebe told a teleconference he was so encouraged by the success of this work that he plans similar research on other organs such as the pancreas and lungs.

A team of American researchers earlier this year said they had created a rat kidney in a lab that was able to function like a natural one, but their method used a "scaffold" structure from a kidney to build a new organ.

British researchers in May of last year said they had turned skin cells into beating heart tissue that might one day be able to be used to treat heart failure.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)