Human stem cells can be cultured in vitro to form immature tissues or organs- organoids – in 3D. These organoids are already being used to explore the basic biology of developmental disorders, degenerative and other disorders. Excitingly, they are also proving valuable for screening the efficacy of potential new therapies in a more clinically relevant way than animal models or 2D cell cultures.
As organoids can be generated by reprogramming cells from accessible tissues, such as the skin, organoids such as the brain, intestine, kidney, lung, stomach, and liver have already been developed, and research continues apace to generate other organoid types.
The following articles illustrate just a few applications in development, as well as some potential future ethical considerations;