Most of the research behind new medical advances is carried out using either animal tissues or cancer cells. Both tools have their problems: results from animals and humans do not always match up and cancer cells grown for years in laboratories often do not mimic the tissues they originally came from very well.
Bridging the gap between whole animals and simple cells can be a challenge during the development of new treatments, but this is beginning to change since scientists have learned how to grow organoids.
Organoids are clusters of cells that organise themselves into mini versions of our organs. They are grown from stem cells, which has only become possible with the discovery of the precise conditions needed to keep stem cells alive outside the body.
Organoids were first made from intestines but have since been made for many other tissues, including liver, breast and even brain cells. This will allow scientists to better study the development and diseases of these organs. [Read more…]