Saturday, January 24, 2009

One step closer to growing organs

Japanese scientists announced on Jan 22nd that they had made a huge breakthrough in fabricating human organs. Researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology successfully created a doll made of living cells.

Living Cell DollThe doll is about 1-inch tall and 5 mm wide, and is made from fully functioning cells. Scientists first created a mould for the doll's shape, then seeded it with 100,000 cell capsules - tiny 0.1 mm balls of collagen coated with cells which then were allowed to grow. The final result is a fully living structure that retains the cellular abilities for at least a day when suspended in culture media. I didn't get a great translation, but think liver cells were used to create the doll.

According to principal investigator Shoji Takeuchi, the next step is to combine cell types and create more complex designs. The team hopes that this technology will eventually be able to create complex organs for human transplants and regenerative medicine.


liliannattel said...

It would be wonderful if transplants didn't mean life for one person and death for another.

Christopher said...

It could also mean the death of a loved one wouldn't have to put families in the position of having to make a quick decision about donating organs, although I'm still leaving the "organ donor" section on my license checked. Hey, it's not like I can take 'em with me.

I wonder if this will have other applications. I know I've read or heard about the possibility of "growing" meat for space travel. Taking whole animals would be seriously problematic, but most meat isn't just comprised of a single type of cell. Plus it could be completely boneless!