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Whole Organ Grown In Animal For First Time 77

An anonymous reader writes British scientists have produced the first working organ grown from scratch in a living animal. Reprogrammed cells created in a lab were used in a mouse to produce a thymus. The organ was created using connective tissue cells from a mouse embryo and were converted into a different cell strain by changing a genetic switch in their DNA. The resulting cells grew into the whole organ after being injected. It has only been tested on mice so far, but researchers at Edinburgh University say that within a decade the procedure could be effective and safe enough for humans. The findings were published in Nature Cell Biology.
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Whole Organ Grown In Animal For First Time

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  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:52PM (#47751437) Homepage Journal

    Well, almost certainly in the test mice they debilitated the immune system so they could prove the theory.

    You know how medical science is. All of these stages are repeated multiple times when relevant.
    First you prove basic mechanism in a pure environment.
    Then you prove it works in animal models.
    Then you prove it's reliably safe in animal models.
    Then you prove it doesn't immediately kill people in small controlled clinical trials, with high risk patients.
    Then you demonstrate that it's more effective than the current treatment under specific circumstances in double blind clinical trials.
    Congratulations, you're now a legitimate "experimental treatement".

  • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:53PM (#47751449)
    You missed the entire point of the project.
    The idea is not to grow new organs in animals for transplant into people, but to develop the means to inject a 'starter kit' of cells into the patient, and have the patient grow a new organ right in their own body.
    So, for someone missing a lung to cancer, or a kidney, or a thymus, (apparently this is what they grew in the test) maybe a spleen, those things you can live without for a bit, (aided by modern medicine obviously) while your body manufactures a new one using their starter kit of cells. I suppose, now that I think about it, they might even be able to eventually grow you a new heart while your body ran on an artificial heart for a bit. The end goal here is to end the need for transplants by being able to force the body to build a new part from scratch. They pointed out that, at this stage, the technique still has the risk of rejection by the body, because it starts with fetal cells (they did this in mice by the way) but their goal is to eventually produce the same results using cells from the end host, so there is no rejection issues.
  • Re:Sweet. (Score:5, Informative)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @05:06PM (#47751573) Homepage
    Actually, that's exactly how they do kidney transplants. They don't bother cutting out your failed kidney - that would just lead to more bleeding and possible complications.

    So instead they just give you a third kidney that hopefully works a lot better than the two original ones that failed.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith