Engineered Thymus From Human Cells

Researchers at University College London (UCL)  and the Crick Institute have rebuilt a human thymus, an essential organ in the immune system, using human stem cells and a bioengineered scaffold. Their work is an important step towards being able to build artificial thymi which could be used as transplants.

The thymus is an organ in the chest where T lymphocytes, which play a vital role in the immune system, mature. If the thymus does not work properly or does not form during foetal development in the womb, this can lead to diseases such as severe immunodeficiency, where the body cannot fight infectious diseases or cancerous cells, or autoimmunity, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the patient’s own healthy tissue.

In their proof-of-concept study, published in Nature Communications, the scientists rebuilt thymi using stem cells taken from patients who had to have the organ removed during surgery. When transplanted into mice, the bioengineered thymi were able to support the development of mature and functional human T lymphocytes.

Showing it is possible to build a working thymus from human cells is a crucial step towards being able to grow thymi which could one day be used as transplants,” says Sara Campinoti, author and researcher in the Epithelial Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at the Crick. 

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
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https://www.ucl.ac.uk/

How To Create See-through Human Organs

Researchers in Germany have created transparent human organs using a new technology that could pave the way to print three-dimensional body parts such as kidneys for transplants. The organ is then scanned by lasers in a microscope that allows researchers to capture the entire structure, including the blood vessels and every single cell in its specific location. Using this blueprint, researchers print out the scaffold of the organ. They then load the 3D printer with stem cells which act as “ink” and are injected into the correct position making the organ functional.

The team led by Ali Erturk at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich have developed a technique that uses a solvent to make organs such as the brain and kidneys transparent. While 3D printing is already used widely to produce spare parts for industry, Erturk said the development marks a step forward for 3D printing in the medical field. Until now 3D-printed organs lacked detailed cellular structures because they were based on images from computer tomography or MRI machines, he said.

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3D transparent mouse

We can see where every single cell is located in transparent human organs. And then we can actually replicate exactly the same, using 3D bioprinting technology to make a real functional organ,” he said. “Therefore, I believe we are much closer to a real human organ for the first time now.”

Erturk’s team plan to start by creating a bioprinted pancreas over the next 2-3 years and also hope to develop a kidney within 5-6 years. The researchers will first test to see whether animals can survive with the bioprinted organs and could start clinical trials within 5-10 years, he said.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/