Skip to main content

A new automated system that is capable of producing organs from stem cells

Organoids: mini organs in a petri dish for disease research and new cures

A new automated system developed at the University of Washington is capable of efficiently producing mini organs from stem cells, and thereby has the potential to accelerate biomedical science and research.


Microwell plate containing kidney organoids generated by robots from stem cells.
Source: Freedman Lab/UW Medicine

Normally, when a researcher wants to test medications or treatments on cells from a particular tissue - for example, a liver - he should first grow the cells in the laboratory in a petri dish. The cells grow on the bottom of the dish and form a thin two-dimensional tissue that does not reflect what happens in the complex three-dimensional tissue that exists in the body. In recent years, researchers have been able to make stem cells develop into three-dimensional structures more like those in the body, called mini-organs. Researchers are able to test different treatments for the mini-organs, and to be more confident that they actually reflect what happens in the living body.

But there is one big problem: producing mini-organs is a time consuming and labor intensive task. First, the cells should be seeded in the petri dishes, its culture medium (liquid or gel designed to support the growth of microorganisms) should be changed every day, the dishes should be monitored to make sure they do not contaminate, and the stem cells that begin to differentiate into mini-organs should be identified. This is an expensive and laborious work - and as such, it hampers research advances. Researchers who want to try to expose the mini-organs to hundreds of different chemicals must first produce thousands of such mini-organs on their own in a short time - a task that is almost impossible to perform without mistakes on the way.

That was the reason for the new study at the University of Washington, where researchers for the first time demonstrated a completely automated system for producing organoids. The robots seeded the stem cells into dishes that contained as many as 384 miniature wells each, and then nurtured them to turn into kidney organoids over 21 days. Each little micro-well typically contained ten or more organoids, and each plate contained thousands of organoids, that otherwise would require the intensive work of a researcher for a whole day. The robot, on the other hand, did the work in twenty minutes - and performed it without any effort, without getting tired or making any mistakes.

The researchers further trained robots to process and analyze the organoids they produced. Researchers at the University of Michigan collaborated with researchers at the University of Washington, and demonstrated how another robotic system uses a technique called single cell RNA sequencing to identify all the different types of cells found in the mini-organs.

Such automation of the study should allow researchers, as mentioned, to easily test many ideas on a myriad of mini-organs. It is not surprising, therefore, that while working with the automated system, researchers have discovered a new way to increase the number of blood vessels in the mini-organs to make them more like real kidneys. They also tried to expose the mini-organs to various substances and found that one of them, Fluvastatin, caused kidney damage in a mechanism that would now be investigated and could provide us with important clues about various kidney diseases.

References:

Czerniecki, Stefan M., et al. "High-Throughput Screening Enhances Kidney Organoid Differentiation from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells and Enables Automated Multidimensional Phenotyping." Cell stem cell 22.6 (2018): 929-940.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A mysterious rock at the edge of the solar system discovered by a Japanese team of researchers

Discovery at the edge of the solar system: a mysterious rock, It may be the missing link in the evolution of the solar system
Scientists have claimed that the mysterious object is the first discovery of its kind and may be the missing link in the evolution of the early solar system. The large body, uncovered by a Japanese team of researchers, may help us learn how the solar system evolved. It is defined as a critical intermediate step in understanding how little ash clouds and ice have become the planets we know today.

The rock was discovered in the Kuiper belt - a collection of bodies orbiting the Sun in orbit beyond the planet Neptune, the farthest planet. The most famous of these bodies is Pluto, once classified as a planet but later changed to a dwarf planet.

The ice bodies found in the Kuiper belt are probably remnants of the solar system. Small objects like asteroids within the solar system have been modified over time by solar radiation, collisions and gravity of the planets. But …

Research, Neanderthals couldn't adapt to climate change, starved and ate human flesh

About 128,000 years ago, the world began to warm up. It was a relatively brief respite between two ice ages, and it lasted about 14,000 years. Temperatures reached about two degrees Celsius above the average in the 20th century, glaciers thawed and large parts of Europe gave way to dense forests. The Neanderthals who lived on the mainland had a hard time coping with sudden climate change. In a new study, researchers from France examined bones and other findings from a cave in the southeastern part of the country and concluded that those ancient people were unable to find enough food in the warmer climate and had to resort to cannibalism to support themselves.


The world was heating up, the mammoths were goneNumerous bones and tools were found in the soil of the Moula-Guercy cave, from various periods of Neanderthal settlement in the area. Which dates back to the period between the Ice ages, the cave contains bones and charcoal that were preserved in an excellent manner and enable the re…

A new study suggests, breastfeeding for 3 months is associated with reduced ovarian cancer risk.

Breastfeeding Benefits and RecommendationsThe World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusivly for up to six months of age and combined with solid foods thereafter. According to WHO, only 38 percent of infants across the world receive breast milk for their first six months of life. The recommendation is designed to save lives and protect against infectious diseases, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, diseases of the respiratory tract (asthma) and metabolic diseases (such as obesity). 

According to the data, more than 20 million babies are born each year at a low weight (under 2.5 kg) and are at higher risk for developmental delay and disease.The advantage of breastfeeding is not only medical. Comparative analysis concluded that breastfeeding reduces infant hospitalizations in childhood, increases intelligence, and increases the fertility and income of the infant in adult life. Therefore, if all infants were to be breastfed for at least a full-year, that alone is…

Stanford Prison Experiment Response bias, Are the conclusions valid?

Almost 50 years after the Stanford Prison Experiment, which is considered one of the milestones in behavioral psychology, it turns out that much of it was fake. Conclusions about stanford prison experiment.

"How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress".
This is how Philip Zimbardo summed up the experiment. In 1971, it was one of the most recognized psychological experiments in the world. Its findings were extensively covered in the media and influenced the perception of many in terms of the role of prisons, the source of criminal behavior and the responsibility a person has for his actions. Almost 50 years later, French filmmaker Thibault Le Tex…

Findings from an archaeological site in Jordan indicate that dogs lived with humans 11,500 years ago

The transition from hunter-gatherer societies to farmers' societies
The people who lived 11,500 years ago in the area that is today northeast of Jordan apparently did not know this, but they were in the midst of one of the most important changes in human history: the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to farmers' societies. This is the change that led to the development of cities and then kingdoms, and ultimately to all human civilizations. These people already lived in permanent settlements, and began to use more and more plants and animals in their environment. And they had something else: dogs. 

In a new article, researchers from Denmark and the United Kingdom suggest that dog domestication have contributed to the expansion of resources available to people of the period, and that the dogs mainly helped to hunt relatively small prey, such as rabbits.
Those whose remains were found at a site known as Shubayqa 6 lived in basalt stone structures, with a stone floor, which …

Study reveals, there is a neural pathway between the cerebellum and the pleasure zone in the brain

The cerebellum is a small structure in the back of the brain that is often thought to be involved in motor functions, including posture, balance and coordination. A new study reveals that there is a neural pathway between the cerebellum and the pleasure zone in the brain, which plays a role in social behavior.

The cerebellum is primarily responsible for motor functions. However, recent research suggests it is involved in other functions as well. It turned out, for example, that it is involved in the mechanism of pleasure. A study from 2011 has shown that repeated activation of the cerebellum causes the secretion of dopamine neurotransmitter in the prefrontal cortex. Another region of the midbrain, the Ventral Tegmentum, is directly related to the prefrontal cortex and is responsible for Dopamine release when we experience pleasure. Following these results, researchers in a new study hypothesized that there is a pathway that leads from the cerebellum to the Ventral Tegmentum, which in t…

Researchers developed a way to deal with cancerous tumors that are resistant to immunotherapy

Researchers from the US and Israel found a way to deal with tumors that developed a resistance to immunotherapy
In recent years, the field of cancer treatment with immunotherapy has made headlines. Medications of this type activate the immune system and mobilize it against the cancerous growth, thus helping the body to destroy the malignant cells on its own. But many cancerous tumors manage not only to passively evade the immune system, but also to display proteins on their cell membrane that "cheat" the immune system and make it think the cell is normal.

In order to deal with them, a specific type of immunotherapy called checkpoint inhibitors has been developed, which prevents communication between the tumor and the immune system, thus preventing it from delaying its activity. These medications are not directed directly at the tumor, but rather prevent it from evading the immune system. Their use requires initial mobilization of the immune system in the cancerous environment,…

A new scientific review of 6,000 genetically modified corn studies in the last 21 years

Genetically modified crops have been criticized by environmental organizations for many years, although many studies have proven their safety. A new scientific review of about 6,000 genetically modified corn studies in the last 21 years shows that not only are genetically modified crops helping the environment, but they are also safer than 'natural' corn crops.

The researchers found that the crop of genetically modified corn was 10 percent higher than the corresponding non-modified corn crop. The concentration of nutrients in the different species was the same, meaning that a farmer who sows genetically modified corn in his fields will receive a healthy and nutritious crop in 10 percent more of the "natural" species. The farmer will not have to expand his fields, invade protected forests or hit the environment to increase the crop - he can simply use genetically modified varieties to achieve the same goal. Thus, the use of genetically engineered corn helps preserve na…

NASA picture of the sunrise of the Columbia shuttle a few days before the disaster

Sunrise from Columbia Space Shuttle
Sixteen years after the shuttle disaster, in which seven astronauts, were killed, NASA released a picture of the sunrise from the window of the crew of the shuttle a few days before the disaster.
The US space agency NASA released a picture of the sunrise at the end of the week, as it was taken from the Columbia Space Shuttle on its last space flight, which ended with the deaths of seven astronauts, including the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.
The space shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when the shuttle returned to Earth from a 16-day space trip. The photograph was taken on January 22, 2003. NASA did not say which of the seven crew members photographed the amazing picture of the sunrise from the crew cabin.
A NASA commission of inquiry established after the disaster determined that the cause of the failure was apparently air bubbles created by the insulating foam that covered the external fuel tank and increased its volume. In…