Tiny Human Liver Grown Inside MOUSE’S HEAD. Progress Is Odd.
We have grown a fucking liver inside a mouse’s head. Vaulting with reckless abandon over scientific rubicons.
It may be small, but is it perfectly formed? A tiny human liver, just 5 millimetres in size, has been grown inside a mouse. It remains to be seen whether the organ can replicate all liver functions – and if it will be possible to scale up the tiny structure to useable dimensions.
Hideki Taniguchi and Takanori Takebe at Yokohama City University generatedinduced pluripotent stem cells from human skin cells, then encouraged them to develop into liver precursor cells. They added two more types of cell – mesenchymal cells, and endothelial cells from umbilical cord blood vessels. Without the aid of any underlying scaffold, the cells “guided themselves” and generated a microstructure almost identical to normal liver tissue, says Takebe.
“We mixed and graded the cells onto the culture dish and they moved to form a cluster,” he says. “It was a surprising outcome from what was, to be honest, an accident.”
The structure was then transplanted inside the skull of severe combined immunodeficiency mice, which would not mount an immune response to the tissue. Transplanting the structure here allowed the researchers to make use of the increased blood flow to the brain to encourage growth of the new tissue.
Within just 48 hours, human blood vessels began to form within the tiny liver, along with human proteins. Levels of glycogen and amino acids in the tissue were also the same as those found in human liver.