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Lab-grown liver raises hopes but draws criticism

Though human cells spontaneously group into rudimentary organs, some scientists say work is very preliminary

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1:12pm, July 3, 2013

LAB LIVER  Lab-made liver cells and umbilical cord cells clustered together in a dish to form three-dimensional liver buds (white dots), a new study reports. However, some scientists question the extent to which the new results advance liver regeneration efforts.

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A tiny cluster of lab-grown human cells that sprouts into liver tissue could one day nix the need for organ donors. But the promise has drawn both praise and criticism, with some scientists arguing that the results are unconvincing.

Using a new technique to craft mini organs, stem cell biologist Takanori Takebe of Yokohama City University in Japan, and his colleagues report that they created human livers in a dish. After transplantation into mice, the liver cells hooked up to blood vessels and behaved like human livers, Takebe’s team says July 3 in Nature.

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