Researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center used human liver cells to create walnut sized human livers. The group presented the abstract,, “The Use of Whole Organ Decellularization for the Bioengineering of a Human Vascularized Liver,” on October 31 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. If successful, these bio-engineered livers could be a solution to the shortage of donor livers, help treat liver disease, help test drug safety and could be the ground work for growing other organs.
Can I get a hell yeah for whole organ bio-engineering?
This research is without a doubt in its infancy, but is still very promising. The livers function like real livers, but only in a lab setting. The next step is to transplant the livers into an animal model.
These 2 articles (here and here) go into detail about the process used to grow the livers. Briefly, the scientists used a mild detergent to remove all the cells of a ferret liver until only the collagen support structure remained, a process termed decellularization. Again, the two articles above explain the full process.