Rudimentary Organs Are Being Grown From Stem Cells

It’s common knowledge that stem cell research has been the source of huge controversy within our society. Scientists who support stem cell research have been attempting to show the world how important it is to do this research for years.  A few days ago, it came to light that two different teams of researchers have made huge strides towards the goal of convincing society that stem cell research is the future of medicine. The first team is based out of Parkville, Australia and is lead by Melissa Little and Minoru Takasato. They work for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. The second team, headed by Dr. David Hackam, was based out of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and the University of Pittsburgh, both located in the United States.

The two teams have been able to grow two primitive organs from stem cells: a kidney and the start of an intestine. This development is extremely important, because the perfection of this process could create an entirely new world of regenerative medicine. Stem cells could very well be the path to a world where new organs can be grown on demand, and eliminate our current reliance on organ donation.

The first team, who is responsible for what they are calling “kidney organoids”, reported that they “bathed the cells in chemicals aimed at making them form kidney tissue”. The cells began to form tissues on their own, and ultimately organized themselves into an organ structure that actually resembled a kidney.

The second team, whose research and work created the beginnings of an intestine, were able to implant the small stretches of intestine-tissue into dogs that lacked colon lining. The tissue took, healed, and ultimately grew within the body of the dog.

In neither case are the research teams trying to convince the world that they’ve grown fully functional organs that are clinically useful or transplantable; we are still a ways away from that. However, these pseudo organs may be able to provide a different use in the meantime. There is talk of using these organoids as human tissue for drug testing purpose.  If proven to be successful, this has the potential to move us away from animal testing altogether.

 

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