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Delivering Livers
22 August 2017

Delivering Livers

If someone’s liver is so damaged that it can no longer operate as it should, a liver transplant might be the only option. But as donor organs are in short supply scientists in the world of regenerative medicine are addressing this problem by developing ways to use stem cells to replace and restore damaged tissue. Pictured is a liver organoid – a 3D organ-like mass of cells in culture – generated by coaxing stem cells to differentiate using precise molecular signalling. These types of organoids provide researchers with a ‘life-like’ experimental environment, allowing them to gain a more in-depth understanding of how the human liver develops. On this occasion, researchers used RNA sequencing to observe genes, signalling molecules and their receptors in order to monitor the molecular conversations that occur between developing liver cells and with their surrounding environment. These miniature organs could soon help with the treatment of liver diseases.

Written by Katie Panteli

  • Image from Cincinnati Children's Hospital /Max Planck Institute
  • Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute; Department of Regenerative Medicine, Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan and Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Image copyright held by the original authors
  • Research published in Nature, June 2017

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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