Researchers Grow 'Liver Buds' Using Stem Cells

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Image of a mouse implanted with a "liver bud," from a 2012 video about the research at Yokohama City University. (YouTube screenshot)

Researchers have made a breakthrough in using stem cells to grow a human organ. That's the report just out from the scientific journal Nature.

Japanese scientists led by Takanori Takebe of say they used stem cells to create "liver buds" — precursors of the liver. When the human liver buds were implanted in mice, they functioned a lot like a liver.

The shortage of organ donations highlights the need for finding other organ replacement therapies.

The work is still in very early stages, but Takebe says the technique might be ready to be tried in human patients in about a decade.

If stem cells could in fact be used to treat liver failure, that could help the many patients who are waiting on transplant lists. And researchers say that these stem-cell methods to build livers might also be used for other organs in short supply.


This segment aired on July 3, 2013.


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