New techniques produce mimics of brain, liver, heart, kidney, retina
Baron Victor von Frankenstein would have admired the bounty of body parts scientists crafted in the lab this year.
Lab-grown lumps of liver, bits of brain and clumps of heart, kidney and retinal cells can now mimic the functions of organs grown the old-fashioned way.
Scientists have no plans to assemble a monster, of course. Artificial organs may instead one day help repair or even replace a person’s damaged tissues. But that day is still many years away, says retinal cell researcher Robin Ali of University College London. “Making a neuron in a dish is exciting, but it’s not a therapy,” he says.
In the last few years, researchers have learned how to turn embryonic stem cells into all sorts of different cell types, such as skin cells, heart