NYSCF Innovator Bioengineers Human Liver Tissue
A big issue surrounding liver transplants is that there aren’t enough livers to go around. Patients can end up on extensive waiting lists, unsure if they’ll ever receive their lifesaving donor organ.
NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Takanori Takebe, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in collaboration with Barbara Treutlein, PhD, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, has developed a method for bioengineering human liver tissue from stem cells. It is Dr. Takebe’s hope that this advancement will one day reduce the need for donor organs. It will also let researchers study liver development and conduct drug testing on actual human tissue.
When generating the tissue, the researchers were interested in how individual cell functions change in a 3D environment. The team found that in a 3D environment, previously unknown networks of genetic-molecular crosstalk control the developmental processes of liver tissue. This is important to know for future engineering of tissue from stem cells.
“Our data reveals, in exquisite resolution, that the conversation between cells of different types changes the cells in a way that likely mimics what is going on during human development,” said Dr. Treutlein. “There is still a lot left to learn about how to best generate a functioning human liver tissue in a dish, nevertheless, this a big step in that direction.”