Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Grow a new you? It’s not just science fiction, anymore

By Lee Bowman
Researchers are reporting some tantalizing results from efforts to grow new organs and other body parts.

Most of the work is still being done on mice, rats and dogs, where medical advances don’t always translate to people, but some transplants and other regenerative therapies have been done on humans — and more are in the wings.

On Wednesday, a Japanese team reported in the journal Nature that it has been able to grow functional human liver tissue from small clumps of cells transplanted to mice. The cells, first produced in a lab dish from human skin cells reprogrammed as stem cells into an embryo-like condition, then enhanced with two other cell types.

The result — human “liver buds” about the size and level of maturity found at six weeks of development. The livers appeared to continue to mature and show signs of being functional after they were transplanted into mice.

The liver buds were implanted inside either the head or one of two sites in the abdomen in each mouse.

Takanori Takebe, a stem cell biologist at Yokohama City University and leader of the research team, told reporters the team is are now working to reduce the size of the liver buds to make it easier to transplant them into an existing mouse liver via blood vessels.

He said although the amount of liver tissue was small, the micro-organs performed well enough that they improved survival in mice after liver failure. The researchers estimate it will be another 10 years before something like the liver buds could be transplanted in humans.

Scientists have been working on replacement parts for nearly a decade, bioengineering a bladder, tear ducts, arteries, even windpipes coated with stem cells. The tracheas have been transplanted to at least five human patients. More complex organs, such as a heart, are being made for mice and rats.

Researchers are also learning that organs are able to replenish certain types of cells long after birth. One study at Boston Children’s Hospital reported in January found that the hearts of infants, children and even teens are able to generate new muscle cells up until about age 20. It had been thought that heart muscle cells repaired damage only by expanding remaining cells, not through regeneration. The study was published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Last month, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore (Calif.) National Lab and a group of colleagues from Sweden and elsewhere used data derived from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s to track changes in the human brain, establishing that a small portion of the human brain involved in memory, the hippocampus, continues to regenerate neurons well into adulthood. The team used carbon 14 dating based on a decline in the element since above ground nuclear testing ended in the 1960s.

The research was published in the journal Cell.

In Japan, a group of dogs “bit the bullet” so-to-speak by undergoing root canals and then a test involving stem cells taken from their teeth. After treating the stem cells with a growth factor, researchers from the National Center of Geriatrics and Gerontology returned the cells to the teeth. The replacement cells all regenerated pulp tissue inside the tooth and completely filled in the root canals in the canines’ canines.

The hope is that the procedure can be used to repair cavity damage in human teeth without deep drilling and cleaning of decayed areas. The Japanese team, which reported their work last month in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, has started work on human trials.

Other teams in Korea, the U.S. and Britain have also been working on getting stem cells to grow tooth pulp. One group at Baylor and Rice universities are working with a special protein gel to foster pulp regeneration.

(Contact Scripps health and science writer Lee Bowman at bowmanl@shns.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)

Comments

comments

Scripps Howard News Service

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics