Grow-your-own organs

Wednesday, 2nd August, 2017

Professor Peter Currie.

GROWING replacement organs could soon be science fact instead of fiction.

Monash University scientists have discovered a protein that could pave the way for producing organs to replace damaged hearts, kidneys and bowels using a patient's own stem cells.

This could help address the severe shortage of donations for transplants.

The team, led by the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute director Peter Currie, found a stem cell protein called Meox1 that is central to directing muscle growth.

Professor Currie said these growth-specific stem cells were unknown prior to the research.
"Just knowing that they exist leads us to the possibility of orchestrating them, controlling them or reactivating them to regrow damaged tissue," he said.

Scientists have been able to grow miniature organs in petri dishes for some time in order to better understand disease and the body's natural self-repair mechanisms.

"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 a laboratory or directly in a patient's body, we have to grow them properly."

The findings were published in Cell Stem Cell.

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