back to article Artificial replacement human livers made in lab

Topical news - and intrinsically splendid news for many Register readers and almost all Reg hacks - today, as boffins in the States say they have "reached an early, but important, milestone in the quest to grow replacement livers in the lab". In fact scientists in a lab at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North …

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Flame

Great!

Now, let's wait for the religious zealots that will surely tell us that growing organs is against their god's will. The, we could surely use their livers for transplants, before actually starting making artificial ones.

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Pint

As a "religious zealot"

(presumably that's how Kurgan would view me) I can't understand his/her point. Growing artificial livers seems OK to me: no more against God's will than artificial knee-joints, coronary artery bypass surgery or public health measures to prevent disease (the field I work in).

I think his/her comments say more about him/her than about the subject of this article.

Icon? Couldn't resist! Who'd have guessed - a God-squaddie with sense of humour. How unstereotypical!

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The point

"I can't understand his/her point."

I think he's referring to (as two examples):

1) Stem cell research;

2) Condoms.

Both are examples of using science in a way *some* religionists (religionists come in different flavours, like ice cream) don't like. I suspect some religionist of some flavour will complain: one or two always do.

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Anonymous Coward

Not reallt a problem with the growing

it's just the current process looks something like :

1 - Take a normal healthy human liver

2 - Remove all the actual liver cells

3 - Grow new healthy liver cells on top of what's left

Now it's the taking of the normal healthy human liver out of a normal healthy human where the ethical dilemma's start, well for most people even the non-religious ones.

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Or..

You could read the article, and replace point 1. with

1. Take a healthy liver from a donor ANIMAL.

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Or...

...you could engineer an artificial structure and not have to inconvienience anything or anyone...

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Johnny 5 need input...

What is the current limiting factor in liver size?

Is it the size of the animal liver used as a scaffold? (In which case why haven't they tried a more human-sized donor animal?)

Does the nutrition in the VAT fail to penetrate beyond a certain thickness of organ?

These are fairly basic questions, in the grand scheme of things.

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Wild guess...

I haven’t read the paper, so this is all conjecture…but it would be my guess that these would be the hurdles. I don’t see an actual reason why you would need to use a “donor liver” for any reason except expedience. (It’s just a collagen skeleton: make your own if you need one bigger!)

As to nutrition in the vat…that’s a more tricky question. I suppose that it is a possible limiting factor…but what would prevent extracting the proto-organ from the vat at some point and attaching some tubes to its proto-circulatory system? A foetus has to have a nascent circulatory system when developing organs…why not simply replicate it in the lab?

So my wild guess based on my limited knowledge of this area is that it's related to the number of cell divisions before the cells become fully differentiated. Remember that to do this properly you would use stem cells from the person in question. The question is: how do you get the cells to reproduce the number of times required to form a proper mass before undergoing the final levels of differentiation. If you try to get regular liver cells to do the job (or cloned cells you are trying to revert to stem-cell-like functionality) you run into the short telomere problem.

If I could get a sample of a person’s stem cells (even healthy adults contain them in various places) and knew how to cause them to differentiate in a specific fashion then I could grow anything. The real question is “how do I turn this small sample of stem cells into a huge mass of stem cells without the bloody things starting to differentiate on their own.” This is followed closely by “when I have a large enough mass of stem cells, how to I make them differentiate into what I actually want.”

Do things right and you have yourself a new heart/lungs/liver/skin/pre-differentiated brain tissue/whatever. Do things wrong and you might end up cloning the person, or worse yet end up with some unidentifiable mass of cells whose purpose $deity never intended. (Big time no-nos!)

I await the full text of the paper with interest!

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Sir

This should help with that report out today that alchohol is the most damaging drug to society :)

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Coat

Num, num, num

Is anyone working on an artificial fava bean?

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Pint

Cheers!

The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Coat

Hmmmmm, lovely with

some Chianti...

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is there a moore's law...

... for growing livers? how long to scale up?

yea, open a bottle of red.

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Boffin

Collagen supporting structure

I wonder if they could print that collagen structure with a 3-D printer?

That would give them more consistent and better tailored results. And they could tweak things like the surface structure to encourage cells to attach, or add in growth-promoting chemicals and similar optimisations.

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rvt
Thumb Up

Printing stuff

Christoph,

They already do that See this TED talk : http://tedxtampabay.com/2010/01/27/printing-organs-with-a-3d-printer/

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Boffin

Redneck engineering

Here in my home state, Clemson University bioengineers are printing them with revamped inkjet printers...

http://www.ces.clemson.edu/earnest/spr_sum_07/research/inkjet-organ-printing.htm

Coolness

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Joke

Reg measurement units

Pounds? ounces?

Wot - no sensible options, like "weighs as much as 1.5 pumpkins", or "0.05 Paris Hiltons"? What about "weighs as much as 10-to-the -34 suns?

Shame. Journalistic standards, etc etc.

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Interesting

I suppose it doesn't matter if they can't get a full sized human liver yet. I seem to recall being taught that they can grow back after bits being removed quite impressively over the course of a year.

If they put one in a person, won't it just grow to normal size?

Anyway, what great news!

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How much does it cost?

Will they repo the liver for non-payment?

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Pint

Lets celebrate....

With a beer! (or 10!)

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Joke

ARTIFICIAL REPLACEMENT HUMAN LIVERS MADE IN LAB

The great break through was in most part due to funding from licensed liquor retailers, brewers, distillers and vintners.

"Now we have no need to consider the effect of alcohol on human livers?"

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Pint

Nobody's said it?

Hard to believe that nobody has dared to say "I'll drink to that". I am *truly* disappointed!

(To be totally honest, outside of a sampling of some alcoholic beverages on the arrival of my 21st year, I've never had anything to drink at all.)

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Remember me

Would this "bioreactor" perhaps be a bubbling jar of liquid?

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That seems to leave guts, stomach, lungs and heart

Note all the above either have interiors with *highly* chemically active surfaces (lungs) or are capable of physical movement (heart) or both (guts and stomach).

But *very* promising.

The next 20 years looks an exciting time for the field testing of replacement parts.

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Anonymous Coward

Christians don't mind that growing of liver cells. Just don't use aborted babies

Hi, the only thing Christians do not like is the use of aborted fetus for stem cells. We accept transplants. They should consider growing these cells for liver dialysis machines which are being tested. You can get human stem cells from bones, they are better to use anyway.

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Pint

Don't start drinking like a fish just yet

Quote from NHS choices..

"News reports generally covered this research accurately. However, the headline featured in the Daily Mail (“Grow your own transplant liver in a lab within just five years”) is misleading as this research does not suggest that the techniques involved could be used for this purpose."

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/08August/Pages/grow-new-liver-cells-stem-cell-technology.aspx

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