In a report announced on Friday, scientists in Japan have created a functioning human liver by using stem cells. This achievement is increasing hopes for new directions to be found in the manufacturing of organs to be used in transplants. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said that a team at Yokohama City University, led by Professor Hideki Taniguchi, successfully transplanted induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into the body of a mouse, and then they began to grow into a human liver.
Known as “precursor cells,” Professor Taniguchi’s team transplanted the iPS cells into the head of a mouse in order to take advantage of an increased blood flow to the brain. After that, the scientists report that the iPS cells grew into a human liver about five millimeters in size, and was capable of creating human proteins, as well as breaking down drugs. This is seen as a true breakthrough into the artificial creation of human organs, something that is viewed as necessary to explore by doctors who are constantly facing shortages of organ transplant donors.
There are still numerous obstacles in place before such a discovery could be used in real medical practice. But the scientists’ research is easily considered as an important step between basic research and clinical use. iPS cells were first discovered in 2006 by two teams, one each from the United States and Japan.
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