Scientists hail creation of working organ made from laboratory cells

Sep 2, 2014

By The Guardian


Reprogrammed cells created in a laboratory have been used to build a complete and functional organ in a living animal for the first time.

British scientists produced a working thymus, a vital immune system “nerve centre” located near the heart.

The technique, so far only tested on mice, could provide replacement organs for people with weakened immune systems, scientists believe. But it might be another 10 years before such a treatment is shown to be effective and safe enough for human patients.

The research bypassed the usual step of generating “blank slate” stem cells from which chosen cell types are derived.

Instead, connective tissue cells from a mouse embryo were converted directly into a completely different cell strain by flipping a genetic “switch” in their DNA.

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