Source: ; Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2013.13324

Over 3,000 people in Canada and the U.S. die every year while waiting for liver transplants. A recent study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature by researchers in New York is one step closer to a solution.

Tiny liver “buds”, approximately 4 mm were made from umbilical cord blood stem cells mixed together with various other cell types found in the mature human liver and were found to self-organize into a small functional tissue. When implanted into mice with liver failure, these tiny liver buds were able to simulate the function of a normal liver. Of great interest to the researchers was the ability of this structure to link up to to nearby blood vessels and continue growth after transplantation. The next step is to try to make liver buds in quantities sufficient for human transplantation.