Scientists create basic human liver
Using human stem cells to create "liver buds," researchers at Yokohama City University in Japan have made a significant leap towards the creation of artificial human livers. The scientists in this study successfully created rudimentary forms of human livers, similar to those that can be found during the early stages of fetal development. The "liver buds" were then implanted into mice, and the organs grew, made human liver proteins and metabolized drugs – all functions of normal human livers.
In the past, scientists have attempted to create liver-like organs from stem cells, but weren’t successful. In this case, the scientists used human skin cells to mine stem cells, which had stimulators and drivers of cell growth added to them. The cells were then turned into human liver cells and took the first step towards creating a lab-grown organ. The "liver buds" grew in petri dishes with blood vessel cells and human connective tissues, and resembled, at their peak growth, the liver at five or six weeks of gestation.
Though the "liver buds" did not continue to grow into complete human livers, the authors of the study – and others in the medical community – see this as an huge breakthrough. Although research using human subjects are years away, this is the first time anyone has used human stem cells to make a functioning solid organ.