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Miniature Human Livers Grown In Lab

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the less-filling-tastes-great dept.

Medicine 154

Zothecula writes "In the quest to grow replacement human organs in the lab, livers are no doubt at the top of many a barfly's wish list. With its wide range of functions that support almost every organ in the body and no way to compensate for the absence of liver function, the ability to grow a replacement is also the focus of many research efforts. Now, for the first time, researchers have been able to successfully engineer miniature livers in the lab using human liver cells."

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154 comments

Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102702)

I'm just wondering...

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102822)

Man, one comment and already my idea for a post is redundant...

FWIW, my line would have been "Scientists report that they're quite delicious."

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102872)

You have to be quick when the joke is this obvious...

*Sigh* (1, Funny)

soloport (312487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103582)

I said LASERS! Sharks with LASERS... Not livers. LASERS!

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104566)

You have to be quick when the joke is this obvious...

I prefer liver with bacon and mashed potatoes...and beer.

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

spooky ghost (70606) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104646)

But really, what would be the ethical implications of eating lab grown human tissue?

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103218)

Obviously OP has only seen the movie, not read the book. You could've come back with, "Don't you mean a big amarone?"

!OT: I'm a bit surprised the extracellular structure remains so viable after removing the animal cells, but then again, my cell biology background is limited to high school, which mostly discusses the organelles, adding, "Spindles are important and nifty! LMAO BUTTS!" more-or-less.

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103504)

Wow, see, I didn't even get this one right (that's how little it was discussed), but in my defense, I wasn't many worlds away. Centrioles [wikipedia.org] are structural bodies involved in generation of the mitotic spindle (separates chromosomes during cell mitosis), extracellular structures (such as cilia), and microtubules [wikipedia.org] that provide structure for the cytoskeleton [wikipedia.org] .
The cytoskeleton itself also contains microfilaments and intermediate filaments. Intermediate filaments are involved with extracellular structure through interactions [wikipedia.org] with desmosomes and hemidesmosomes.

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102904)

Wouldn't fava beans be to big? Maybe a Petite Golden?

Re:Do they taste good with fava beens and chianti? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104394)

I would just avoid the paté at the lab holiday party if you ask me.

Miniature drinks? (5, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102710)

So if they make me a miniature liver, does that mean I can only drink those little 8oz beers?

Re:Miniature drinks? (5, Funny)

pantheonwhaley (1933610) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102844)

Yeah, and you can only go to minibars. The upside is that the ladies wear miniskirts.

Re:Miniature drinks? (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103366)

Yeah, and you can only go to minibars.

The upside is that the ladies wear miniskirts.

And they sing Cry Me a Liver.

Re:Miniature drinks? (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102846)

"So if they make me a miniature liver, does that mean I can only drink those little 8oz beers?"

I don't think so..either you plug a bunch of them together for form normal function. Or, perhaps, all the growth hormones we injest from our food would help make it grow to full size once implanted.

It must work, I mean...have you see the tits on young girls these days?!?!? They sure didn't have them like that when I was young. I'm talking grade school young too...ouch! Glad I'm not the father to one and have to keep the boys off them.

Re:Miniature drinks? (2, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103272)

you just felt older at the time.
at 13 you felt far older than a 13 year old looks to you now.
plus it's the outlier which catch attention, not the norm.

things change.
people stay the same.

it's like how old people are convinced that the world was a safer place in their youth and the teenagers far more respectful.

Re:Miniature drinks? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103686)

Honestly..I don't think it is my imagination or perception on outliers.

I've got friends with kids...in the 10-13yr age. I've gone with them to the schools to pick up their kids (boy and girl)..and I was shocked...MOST of the girls in that same young age group (my friend's daughter included)...all had freakin' tits. I'm not talking just developing, little ones..but full blow boobs of an older teen/young woman.

Something is afoot...I really do wonder if it is all the hormones in foods today.

When I was young...one or two girls that developed like that were the outliers that got ALL the attention. Now? It seems all the girls are maturing way too early and at very early ages.

Re:Miniature drinks? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103846)

That's a cry that's been repeated forever.
"Things were different in my day."

Simple better nutrition moves puberty a few years it's true but unless you're very old that wouldn't be an issue.

when you're around people all the time you don't notice gradual change the same way, the girls with the really massive breasts first got attention but the others would have just gradually changed and been already overshadowed by their counterparts.

Never trust your childhood memories for perceptions of scale.

There really is also a good chance that your memories are from the early end of that spectrum, when you're 11 the 13 year old girls seem vastly older than you and the girls your own age.
You wouldn't lump girls in your own class and ones a couple of years older together.
20 or 30 years down the line and telling the difference between kids a few years apart is far harder and you do lump them together.

Re:Miniature drinks? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104372)

Actually, there are significant concerns about early puberty. For example [bmj.com] just one reasonable reference in a quick search.

Lots of potential boogey men here but it does seem to be a real phenomenon.

Re:Miniature drinks? (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104360)

I suspect the explanation is far simpler- sexier-cut tops and padded bras.

I don't know when exactly you were a kid, but it's no secret that younger teenagers wear more adult fashions than they did decades ago. Unless you're looking at a lot of topless 13 year old girls (in which case best not to admit it here) there's no easy way to tell without a good scientific study.

Re:Miniature drinks? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103446)

You mean a "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Livers"?

Re:Miniature drinks? (2, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103748)

So if they make me a miniature liver, does that mean I can only drink those little 8oz beers?

Cheap date...

JITB (0)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102712)

So is Jack in the Box going to have a mini liver and onions to pair with the mini sirloin burgers with another awesome ad campaign to back in tup?

Minature .. Livers? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102718)

What we need are miniature niggers.

Time to celebrate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102738)

The first round of drinks is on me!

Can they be genetically engineered (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102740)

With some fava beans and a nice chianti?

Mini-Me? (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102760)

Now we just have to find a bunch of mini humans to try these out on ... I mean, we have to have clinical trials, right?

Re:Mini-Me? (4, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102862)

Alcoholic pygmies are a dime a dozen. Which is just as well, since they're easier to carry in a twelve-pack.

Re:Mini-Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103054)

The perfect subject [drinkbudlight.com]

Artificial hepatic function (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102824)

Replacing hepatic function is a wonderful thing, but in order to have the new livers not be rejected, they should either be grown from a small donation of the recipient, or have the primordial DNA blasted away in the donor cells, and have it replaced with DNA from the intended recipient. Lots of people have died from not having a functioning liver, and being able to replace a broken/dysfunctional one with a new one is serious big-time news.

You just wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102826)

These things will mutate and go on the attack. You get an implant, and it will turn your entire body into a giant liver. The only way to control it is LOTS of alcohol..

Re:You just wait (2, Funny)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104158)

These things will mutate and go on the attack....The only way to control it is LOTS of alcohol..

So...it's like a fraternity?

Barfly wishlist (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102840)

First on the list is livers? I think not. Like the rest of us men, they wish for one thing: larger drinks.

Re:Barfly wishlist (4, Funny)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103452)

I don't know why they'd be worried their livers - that's why God gave us two of them, in case one goes bad.

Re:Barfly wishlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103662)

We may have two kidneys, but only one liver.

Re:Barfly wishlist (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103716)

How many WOOOSHes do we have?

Re:Barfly wishlist (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103786)

Since we learned to grow them in mice... infinity.

Re:Barfly wishlist (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103722)

True, but I thought the liver could naturally regenerate? Maybe I'm remembering my high school biology incorrectly...

Re:Barfly wishlist (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103888)

Given enough time, sure.

Let's use a car analogy--if I drive 60 mph at 20 mpg, I'm using 3gph of fuel. Now if the helicopter following me for aerial refueling can only pump 2gph into my fuel tank, I'm still going to die.

Re:Barfly wishlist (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104150)

The liver has an amazing capacity to regenerate when healthy, and indeed it's possible to donate a partial liver and have the sections regenerate into healthy organs. However, cirrhosis of the liver involves damage that forms scar tissue throughout the organ. This scar tissue eventually blocks blood supply for the remaining healthy liver tissue, which reduces liver function and can cause a host of other complications.

Re:Barfly wishlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34104304)

Your liver cells regenerate, but if the liver structure is messed up, the regenerated cells won't work. Cirrhosis from alcohol abuse or hepatitis basically scars up your liver and destroys the underlying structure so that liver cells are useless when they do regenerate.

Better car analogy: You crash your car. This leads to the engine being cracked, frame being warped, front axle being bent, the battery leaking, and the gas line and wires being melted. You replace the engine, but do not fix the rest of the damage. The car will still not move.

Re:Barfly wishlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103752)

We only have one liver.

More on the topic (5, Informative)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102842)

Here's a TED talk [ted.com] from Alan Russell on the methods and details of this technology.

Wild! (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102886)

"I like the human race the way it is. I'm a person, not a collection of hunks of meat."
~Cmdr. Mike Halstead

Re:Wild! (0)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103132)

That's just asking for a obligatory [xkcd.com] .

Now, is there any reason why a cloned person would be any less of a person than one born and raised? I can't think of any, we're made up of the same parts essentially.

Re:Wild! (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104492)

Wow for the GP.

That's like those hard-of-thinking gay marriage opponents that say it somehow devalues existing "traditional" forms of marriage: they conveniently forget that there are yet other forms of "traditional" marriage that don't jibe with their preferred form of marriage.

So, just to be clear: the fact of a human clone doesn't make other humans any less human, just as the existence of other species doesn't make us any less alive.

Do they actually work? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102920)

I'm trying to build some mini niggers (30cm to 40cm) for various projects. All I'm missing is the liver.

BTW, good luck with your "elections" over there today.

Re:Do they actually work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103058)

Won't help you. Their dicks will still be larger than yours.

I wonder how much it will cost? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102948)

The skills needed to grow one of these can't be cheap and that's before you've added on the RnD costs.

I'll drink to that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34102992)

insert irony tag here

Drink More? (1)

alphax45 (675119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34102994)

Does this mean we can drink more now?

Re:Drink More? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103100)

Only in small increments...

Re:Drink More? (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103138)

Just get a dozen or so hooked up in parallel.

Re:Drink More? (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103232)

Imagine a Beowulf clustOW STOP HITTING ME!

How long can I keep being an alcoholic with this? (4, Insightful)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103002)

How often am I going to have to swap this out? Is there a MDBF (mean drinks before failure)?

Now in Aisle 5 (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103024)

Next to the wine coolers and six-packs.

Obligatory monty python (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103042)

can we have your liver then?

Woohoo! (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103134)

This calls for miniature fava beans and miniature bottles of Chianti (made from miniature grapes).

How much liver do we need to make a difference? (3, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103252)

Well, it looks like these mini livers put us just slightly under two orders of magnitude in size away before getting sufficient capacity to sustain a human (at the mentioned minimum of 30% normal function).

Or does it? in many cases, liver disease is the result of a chronic and slow destruction that does not remove all capacity at a stroke; rather, the person slowly loses capacity until at some point it becomes insufficient to sustain life.

I am hoping a partial transplant of even a micro-sized lobe might be sufficient to bump them back up to capacity. If we can get a big enough liver-oid to provide a few years function, that might be enough for an elderly patient to live out the rest of their normal life-span (or at least normal "health-span").

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103372)

You can operate with a partial liver if you're nice to it. Perhaps they will grow a stub and insert it, and it will just grow into place. If it's made with your DNA it ought to know when to stop.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (0)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103456)

I am hoping a partial transplant of even a micro-sized lobe might be sufficient to bump them back up to capacity.

I take somewhat of an issue with this. That's tantamount to people being able to say, "I'll just beat my liver up until it starts to die and then top it back off." You laugh, but when you see parents *driving* alongside their kids while they trick-or-treat you'll never again underestimate the laziness potential being housed in this country.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103652)

Surgery has enough of a risk factor just in itself, it discourages most all of this line of thinking. How many people do you know that ever consider surgery anything but a last resort?

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103794)

Surgery has enough of a risk factor just in itself, it discourages most all of this line of thinking. How many people do you know that ever consider surgery anything but a last resort?

Not Joan Rivers...

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103956)

1 person is hardly a reason to discount significant progress in life saving medicine.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34104024)

How many people do you know that ever consider surgery anything but a last resort?

Personally?

About a dozen, if we're including stomach modifications in the list (belts, stapling, etc).

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (2, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104064)

You sir obviously do not live in a suburban coastal community.

Many people around here think of surgery as recreation.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103770)

You laugh, but when you see parents *driving* alongside their kids while they trick-or-treat you'll never again underestimate the laziness potential being housed in this country.

Laziness... or desire to stay warm? The kids are motivated to go out in the cold, their parents, not so much. Plus, when the kids' motivation is finally overcome by the chilly temperatures, having the warm car right nearby is a good thing.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (0)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104076)

Ah, look at the fat whiny American try to rationalize his lifestyle. Isn't he adowable?

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

mnagy (854980) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104588)

I don't know about adorable, but at least he doesn't have an annoying type impediment.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103464)

The liver is one of the few organs which will already regenerate on its own.

So if you give it breathing room, you may have it regrow some on its own.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103694)

That's why you grow 100 of the little bastards and shove em in there.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104084)

And that was how Centiliver was made; the Superman to Henry Chinaski's Clark Kent.

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (3, Interesting)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103986)

There have been cases where people badly in need of a liver transplant due to failure have been put on artificial livers that took enough load off the livers/bought the patient enough time that their livers regenerated themselves completely. No need for transplant!

Re:How much liver do we need to make a difference? (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104522)

Well I wonder if you could harvest healthy cells from a damaged liver, decellularize it and then use the salvaged cells to rebuild it back to full size.

Welcome (1)

surveyork (1505897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103254)

I, for one, welcome our new miniature liver overlords.

How about a Beowolf Cluster of (2, Funny)

CYDVicious (834329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103322)

these mini livers, to share the load?

Obligatory Simpsons (1, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103326)

Larry Hagman took it. He's got five of them now! And three hearts! We didn't want to give them to him but he overpowered us!

Just Great (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103334)

Miniature Human Livers Grown In Lab

If only I'd stuck to the miniature bottles of vodka all these years.

Paging Dr. Lecter (1)

PotatoFiend (1330299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103348)

These will make excellent hors d'oeuvres.

Re:Paging Dr. Lecter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103708)

Horse devours? A horse devours what?

(maresy doats and goatse doats and little lamsey divey!)

Proving the Tom Waits theorem (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103368)

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Re:Proving the Tom Waits theorem (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104058)

"How profound, Wizard!"

I think I'm just gonna lay down in this little field of... POPPIES-POPPIES-POPPIES-POPPIES-poppies-poppies...

Larry Niven saw this coming (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103422)

Synthetic organs from A Gift from Earth [technovelgy.com] .

"liverbeasts", "heartbeasts"... heh. Cute. Now if we could just get safe Bussard ramjets (or maybe hyperdrive).

Re:Larry Niven saw this coming (1)

bricriu (184334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103798)

Teleportation booths, please.

Organ donors are better livers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103508)

Seen on a billboard.

Don't ask me why I was paying attention to the billboard instead of the road.

Re:Organ donors are better livers (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104102)

Don't ask me why I was paying attention to the billboard instead of the road.

Hopefully you're organ donor if you do that sort of thing often.

What's this? Livers for ANTS? (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103592)

That's great, but we need livers for regular-sized humans.

a little drinking (1)

big whiffer (906132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103668)

these should be good for a little drinking.

Still need anti-rejection drugs? (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103680)

I'm not a doctor or medically trained. Since the liver is the one organ that can repair itself, wouldn't that mean that someone who needs a liver transplant would not be in a position to provide the starter liver cells to grow a replacement? If so, then it would have to be a donor, and anti-rejection drugs would need to be taken. So it's a way to increase the supply of livers available for transplant, not a way to grow one's own replacement. Still important, but not the gateway to immortality.

Re:Still need anti-rejection drugs? (2, Informative)

malakai (136531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103862)

No, failure of the whole liver all at once would be exceptionally rare. Cirrhosis for example takes years to die from. Parts of the liver end up becoming 'scar' tissue, and cease to perform liver functions. At some point in time, if the disease isn't stopped and you fall below some threshold of healthy liver cells, you'll end up dead.

Re:Still need anti-rejection drugs? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104120)

No. You can easily have functional cells in failing liver--liver failure just means below 30% of normal functioning. If enough cells can be scraped to grow a chunk that puts you back up to 30%, then voila, you live to drink another day.

I read that wrong.. (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103698)

At first glance, I thought that read, miniature humans grown in lab. I thought, cool..do want!

That's great news for miniature humans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34103820)

But what about the rest of us?

Some where under a rainbow (2, Funny)

Fr05t (69968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34103946)

Leprechauns rejoice!

Liver printing (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104000)

Can't we just print them up with a 3D printer anyway?

#irc.trolltalK.com (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34104114)

somet4ing done includes w4ere you from within.

Who is in charge of selecting these old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34104134)

Similar things are being done for a long time. I noticed that scientific advances noted here recently are mostly old news. Like the perforin CD8 T cell report. If someone releases a story it should be checked for relevance and significance.

 

Nice work, but growing wrong body parts (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104408)

At least, fake livers won't be in highest demand from *this* crowd.

How about food? (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104460)

Liver happens to be edible and quite tasty. If they manage to grow these livers in a vat on a commercial scale, they could significantly help with the world hunger problem. And, of course, the factory farm problem.

Oh, the irony... (1)

mnagy (854980) | more than 3 years ago | (#34104608)

...now we can grow livers like grapes.

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