It is early days yet; say scientists, but this may be an important advancement in the aim of growing replacement of human livers in labs. Having created an actual working miniature liver in the laboratory, scientists are hopeful of further advancements in this direction.
Such advancement will address not only the shortage of donor livers, but will also be useful for testing efficacy and safety of new drugs.
We are still a long way away from a time when people could actually benefit from this, and many technical and other hurdles are still to overcome, but scientists such as Shay Soker, a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, are excited about the possibilities that this presents.
Using the collagen skeleton of animal livers, two types of human cells, the scientists placed these in a bioreactor, which is a device that provides oxygen and requisite nutrients to the organ.
Within a week it was seen that liver associated function and progressive formation of human liver tissue started to grow.
The next step in the direction where this will ultimately benefit humans will be to transplant this lab created liver in animals to see if they do the job that they are supposed to.