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Whole organ grown in animal for the first time

BBC News Whole organ grown in world first


A whole functional organ has been grown from scratch inside an animal for the first time, say researchers in Scotland.

A group of cells developed into a thymus - a critical part of the immune system - when transplanted into mice.

The findings, published in Nature Cell Biology, could pave the way to alternatives to organ transplantation.

Experts said the research was promising, but still years away from human therapies.

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Scientists at the Medical Research Council centre for regenerative medicine at the University of Edinburgh started with cells from a mouse embryo:

These cells were genetically "reprogrammed" and started to transform into a type of cell found in the thymus.

These were mixed with other support-role cells and placed inside mice.

Once inside, the bunch of cells developed into a functional thymus.

It is similar to a feat last year, when lab-grown human brains reached the same level of development as a nine-week-old foetus.

The thymus is a much simpler organ and in these experiments became fully functional.

Structurally it contained the two main regions - the cortex and medulla - and it also produced T-cells.

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