Brain, intestines and kidneys, liver and lungs - what to do if vital organs stop working or failing? For a few years researchers have been able to breed small human organs from stem cells. This miniature model called organoid was developed by one of the pioneers of stem cell researchers Jürgen Knoblich. With his colleagues in Vienna, he has now created a deadly cancer in a brain organoid. This can be used to test the effect of new drugs in order to possibly rescue patients with such a brain tumor.
Also patients on the waiting list for a donor organ hope for replacement by organoids. If it were possible to breed transplantable organs from them, all the problems of transplantation medicine could be eliminated: their production would be ethically unproblematic, they could be produced as needed, and they would not be rejected. Meanwhile, almost all human organs grow as organoids in the labs. However, the breeders of organs are still pretty much at the beginning. So far, it is often simple tissues that are bred. Can these be equipped with blood vessels or nerve fibers in the future and are there general risks in dealing with the artificial organs? Above all: In which time frame will the research findings be helpful for the patients?