A team of researchers from University of California San Francisco found a technique to develop tiny models of human tissues by stacking human cells together like that of Lego blocks. These tiny structures referred as organoids could be used to grow whole human organs as well as in therapeutic drug screening.
In the study published in the Journal Nature Methods the researchers explained the newly invented technique called DNA Programmed Assembly of Cells (DPAC). Using this technique the researchers will be able to create thousands of custom-designed organoids. As a matter of fact, human mammary glands and models of sort that contain tens of hundreds of cells could be created in few hours or so, according to UCSF.
Dr Zev Gartner, the paper’s senior author and an associate professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF, said that there were limitations by far in tissues the technology can mimic are concerned. He added that now it is possible to take a particular cell type and program it accordingly.
Gartner also noted that the cells could be programmed in their initial stages regarding the spatial cues to interact. Eventually, as they grow up, they move around and develop into tissues according to the instructions.
“One potential application would be that within the next couple of years, we could be taking samples of different components of a cancer patient’s mammary gland and building a model of their tissue to use as a personalized drug screening platform. Another is to use the rules of tissue growth we learn with these models to one day grow complete organs,” added Gartner.
Dr Michael Todhunter, PhD, who led the new study with Dr Noel Jee, PhD, said that this technique helps study and manipulate components of tissues by enabling the researcher to produce them in a dish. He also added that this technique helps in understanding complex human tissues without touching humans.
Meanwhile Gartner noted that “We’re working on building functional blood vessels into these tissues.”
“We can get the right cells in the right positions but haven’t figured out how to perfuse them with blood or a substitute efficiently yet,” added Gartner, according to Live Science.