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11 Body Parts Grown in the Lab

Liver cells

lab-grown liver cells

(Image credit: Yaakov Nahmias)

The liver, the largest organ inside the human body, is capable of great feats of repair and regeneration while in its proper place. Outside the body, the organ has provided a challenge; it has proven exceedingly difficult for scientists to grow liver cells, called hepatocytes, and keep them alive. For the first time, scientists from Germany and Israel successfully cultivated hepatocytes in the laboratory, publishing their research Oct. 26, 2015, in the journal Nature Biotechnology. Though not a full-fledged organ (or even an organoid), this development holds promising implications for clinical study, with Yaakov Nahmias, director of the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the study's lead author, describing it in a statement as "the holy grail of liver research.”

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Mindy Weisberger
Mindy Weisberger

Mindy Weisberger is a Live Science senior writer covering a general beat that includes climate change, paleontology, weird animal behavior, and space. Mindy holds an M.F.A. in Film from Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.