The modern method of tissue engineering takes laboratory-grown organs one step closer


Tissue engineering has emerged with two key objectives as a promising approach: (1) the production of tissue and organ replacements for clinical transplantation to replace damaged areas and restore organ function; and (2) the creation of human tissue chips and the replacement of animal models for drug screening and disease modeling. The human body has layers of organisation that build on each other: tissues are made up of cells and matrices, organs are made up of tissues, and organs make up structures that serve the different functions of the body. Structure is closely related to function at each level of organization. Therefore, their specialized functions reflect the structure of the kidneys, liver, heart, and lungs. A new technique that could one day allow us to grow fully functional human organs in the laboratory has been developed by researchers. A kidney transplant is the only hope for a better quality of life for patients with end-stage renal disease. Yet, with a persistent shortage of donor kidneys, many of these patients will never undergo transplant surgery. Demand greatly outstrips availability, with 95,000 people on the waiting list for a donor kidney in the United States alone. To date, only in science fiction have laboratory-grown organ replacements existed because scientists have failed to organize cells into the complex three-dimensional (3D) arrangements accomplished by nature. Researchers suggest that there must be a biologically compatible 3D scaffold to successfully grow organs and tissues, containing all the biochemical signals in the correct configuration to cause the development of the desired organ or tissue. Researchers have been working on ways outside of the human body to develop healthy organs. Promising results have already been obtained by one such method, called blastocyst complementation. Blastocysts, clusters of cells produced several days after egg fertilization, are taken by researchers from mutant animals lacking specific organs and injected with stem cells from a normal donor, not necessarily from the same species. In order to form the entire missing organ in the resulting animal, the stem cells then differentiate. The features of the original stem cell donor, an organ, are preserved by the new organ.

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Allison Grey

Journal Manager

Journal of Clinical chemistry and Laboratory Medicine