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EPFL scientists advance method to make lab-grown livers

Published on 11/07/2020

Scientists in Switzerland have designed a new method for growing human miniature livers in a lab.

The technique, developed by biologists and bioengineers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), could mark a breakthrough in the quest for transplantable lab-grown organs.

The EPFL scientists created a simplified tiny version of the organ, known as an organoid, using bipotent stem cells that occur naturally in the bile ducts connecting the liver to the gallbladder.

In the short term, the miniature livers will be used for trialing treatments against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common liver disorder in the developed world.

In the long term, their technique could be used to grow transplantable organs from healthy stem cells, which could be used to treat patients with end-stage liver disease. 

The findings were published on Friday in the journal Nature Communications.