The advances made by modern scientists and doctors are simply mind-blowing — sometimes it’s hard to fathom just how much innovation these professionals are capable of.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have figured out how to grow tiny human livers and implant them into lab rats. The discovery could be a game-changer for the future of human organ transplants.

The researchers built upon more than 10 years of existing work with this recent development. They started by taking skin cell samples for human volunteers, then reverse-engineered these cells into stem cells. The scientist then encouraged the cells to form a liver. Finally, they added these human liver cells to what was essentially a scaffolding made of rat cells.

They translated these small livers into a group of five rats and watched to see what happened. All five livers worked as expected during a four-day observation window; they secreted bile and urea, just like livers should.

This batch of miniature livers grew in less than a month, which is a much faster process than the up to two years they can take to grow inside the human body.

Of course, the scientists pointed out that more work needs to be done to further this line of research, but these early findings are promising nonetheless.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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