Study clears way to growing replacement body organs

July 10, 2017, Monash University

A discovery involving Monash University scientists promises to pave the way to producing replacement organs for damaged hearts, kidneys and bowels, using patients' own stem cells.

The research, pioneered by a team of scientists led by the Director of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, Professor Peter Currie, could overcome the severe shortage of for transplants.

The scientists focused on the zebrafish, a small, fast-growing tropical fish native to Southeast Asia, which is used widely as a model for human biology.

They found that a protein called Meox1, active in , is central to directing muscle growth. The ground-breaking results have been published in the latest edition of the prestigious journal, Cell Stem Cell.

Scientists world-wide have long been growing miniature organs in petri dishes, using them to better understand disease and natural self-repair mechanisms in the body, and for drug testing. Monash University has been at the forefront of these fields.

"But, we have known almost nothing about how organs grow in the living animal – the cellular basis of how stem cells make all that tissue," Professor Currie said.

"If we're ever going to grow complete organs in the laboratory or directly in a patient's body, we have to know how to grow them properly.

"My lab is exploring one of last frontiers of developmental biology – how organ growth is regulated by stem cells.

"Prior to our work in this field, we didn't even know that these growth-specific stem existed or how they were used. Just knowing that they exist leads us to the possibility of orchestrating them, controlling them, or reactivating them to regrow damaged tissue."

Professor Currie said while the stem cell discovery represented a significant advance in knowledge, the timeline for producing in the laboratory remained unknown, though closer now to science fact than fiction.

Explore further: Scientist identify first steps in muscle regeneration

More information: Phong Dang Nguyen et al. Muscle Stem Cells Undergo Extensive Clonal Drift during Tissue Growth via Meox1-Mediated Induction of G2 Cell-Cycle Arrest, Cell Stem Cell (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2017.06.003

Related Stories

Scientist identify first steps in muscle regeneration

May 20, 2016

Scientists from Monash University's Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute ARMI have found the first real evidence of how muscles may be triggered to regenerate or heal when damaged. The research could open the way to ...

New study reveals pigs could grow human organs

June 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- At the annual European Society of Human Genetics conference, a group of researchers presented their newly discovered technique that may soon enable pigs to grow human organs for transplant.

Stem cells seem speedier in space

March 20, 2017

Growing significant numbers of human stem cells in a short time could lead to new treatments for stroke and other diseases. Scientists are sending stem cells to the International Space Station to test whether these cells ...

Scientists smash barrier to growing organs from stem cells

April 4, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have overcome one of the greatest challenges in biology and taken a major step toward being able to grow whole organs and tissues from stem cells. ...

Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

April 24, 2015

Stem cells naturally cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes. Scientists have thought for years that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells with essential nutrients.

Recommended for you

How leaves talk to roots

September 26, 2018

New findings show that a micro RNA from the shoot keeps legume roots susceptible to symbiotic infection by downregulating a gene that would otherwise hinder root responses to symbiotic bacteria. These findings reveal what ...

Microbial dark matter dominates Earth's environments

September 26, 2018

Uncultured microbes—those whose characteristics have never been described because they have not yet been grown in a lab culture—could be dominating nearly all the environments on Earth except for the human body, according ...

Team names world's largest ever bird—Vorombe titan

September 25, 2018

After decades of conflicting evidence and numerous publications, scientists at international conservation charity ZSL's (Zoological Society of London) Institute of Zoology, have finally put the 'world's largest bird' debate ...

The grim, final days of a mother octopus

September 25, 2018

Octopuses are the undisputed darlings of the science internet, and for good reason. They're incredibly intelligent problem-solvers and devious escape artists with large, complex nervous systems. They have near-magical abilities ...

Climate change not main driver of amphibian decline

September 25, 2018

While a warming climate in recent decades may be a factor in the waning of some local populations of frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, it cannot explain the overall steep decline of amphibians, according to researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.