Research suggesting stem cells may be used to create human liver “buds” received moderate coverage in print and online, but no mention on the national news broadcasts. While some sources and experts hailed the findings as a breakthrough, others pointed out that the research is at a very early stage, and it remains to be seen whether the technique can actually be used to benefit humans.
The Wall Street Journal (7/5, Naik, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) reports that scientists have used stem cells to create human liver “buds,” according to a paper (7/5) published in Nature.
USA Today (7/3, Vergano, 1.71M) reported that the “buds,” which were “implanted in...mice, represent a first experimental step in growing replacement organs from stem cells for transplants, such as liver, pancreas and kidneys, says the research team headed by Japan’s Takanori Takebe of the Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine.”
The Los Angeles Times (7/3, Kaplan, 692K) “Science Now” blog reports that the team used induced pluripotent stem cells and grew them “into liver buds in about 48 hours” then they implanted them in mice. “It took another two days for the buds to grow blood vessels and connect to the circulatory system.” Eventually “the buds grew into organs that resembled mature livers and expressed the same genes.”
The New York Times (7/4, A3, Kolata, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reports that Dr. Hillel Tobias, chairman of the American Liver Foundation’s national medical advisory committee, called the findings “a major breakthrough of monumental significance.”
On its website, NBC News (7/4, Fox) reported, however, that “other experts were cautious about the findings.” Dr. John Gearhart, a stem cell expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “This is a good start, again employing basic science to form a bud, but long way off for producing truly functional hepatic...tissue for the clinic.”
The U-T San Diego (7/3, 242K) reports, “Other organs...can be produced by the bud process, Takebe said,” although “it will take about 10 years before the method is ready for human clinical trials.”
On its website, CBS News (7/5, Castillo) reports that Takebe “hopes in the future researchers can create liver buds small enough to be transfused intravenously, and forsees that this method could also be used to create new pancreas or kidney cells.”