Research presented at Sunday's American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston marked a preliminary but potentially groundbreaking development in the search for the lab-engineered organs of the future. Scientists at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have engineered the first functioning miniature livers from human liver cells ever created in a lab setting.
Perhaps it's in the nature of regenerative medicine news to multiply. Earlier today stem cell researchers announced the first clinical trial using adult stem cells to treat a spinal cord injury would begin at the end of the month. Now, two studies have hit the wire this afternoon detailing two different ways to fix damaged hearts, one by turning structural cells into beating heart tissue, another by restoring mammals' long-lost ability to regenerate heart tissue much as some amphibians regenerate lost limbs.