Beijing: Chinese researchers have engineered a liver tissue in the lab which closely mimics the organ’s complicated functions more effectively — a finding that can lead to the development of functional liver tissue for clinical applications and drug screening.
Engineered liver tissue could have a range of important uses, from transplants in patients suffering from the organ’s failure to pharmaceutical testing, the study said.
“A new microfluidics-based tissue was built that copied the liver’s complex lobules and the organ’s tiny structures that resemble wheels with spokes,” reported lead author Jinyi Wang, professor at Northwest A&F University.
The team developed the tissue with human cells from a liver and an aorta, the body’s main artery.
In the lab, the engineered tissue had a metabolic rate that was closer to real-life levels than other liver models.
It successfully simulated how a real liver would react to various drug combinations, the findings, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, revealed.
The liver serves a critical role in digesting food and detoxifying the body. But due to a variety of factors, including viral infections, alcoholism and drug reactions, the organ can develop chronic or acute problems.
When it doesn’t work well, a person can suffer abdominal pain, swelling, nausea and other symptoms.
Complete liver failure can be life threatening and can require a transplant, a procedure that currently depends on human donors.
To curtail this reliance and provide an improved model for predicting drugs’ side effects, scientists have been engineering liver tissue in the lab. But so far, they haven’t achieved the complex architecture of the real thing.