The organelles are composed of specific types of stem cells whose origin is epithelial and that growing self – organize and summarize various aspects of organogenesis. They are less complex than a complete organ but much more complete than a cluster of cells in culture.
For the journal Science , they can be considered as 3D models that allow the study of early development of organs and interactions between tissues. Their role in medicine is essential since they allow research in more advanced models than cell cultures .
This method was declared the method of the year 2017 by the journal Nature Methods.
While we can all get an idea of its function, it is more evident when we think about the following. If these organoids are built from cells in a patient, they help us understand what happens in the disease that the patient suffers, including cancer.
A discovery by chance
As on other occasions it seems that the discovery of the organoids was also by chance. Madeline Lancaster, a post-doctoral researcher at the Austrian Institute for Molecular Biology, was growing mouse neural stem cells in Jürgen Knoblich’s laboratory.
During this study, they used reagents that serve to adhere the cells to the plate but in this case it seems that they had been damaged and the cells did not adhere. Instead, the cells were spontaneously forming three-dimensional cells that when transferred to a solid substrate gave rise to simple cortical structures, doing almost nothing else. The seed of the organoid generation was beginning.
Organoids and research
However, although this is a great improvement and a good approximation to reality, other elements are still lacking, such as the natural environment, which is a critical influence on cell dynamics and morphogenesis. In addition, when we talk about a real organ, it can be made up of various cell lines that contribute to creating a single organ or even that certain physical characteristics may be key .
Therefore, researchers are tasked with identifying and reconstructing these elements and interactions, whether they involve coculturing with other cells to generate necessary vascularity and provide innervation or simulation of fluid flow as with organoids on a chip.
When this is achieved, the organoids will be able to more closely approximate the form and function of nature. Continuous modification of organoid creation methods will produce exciting advancements and resolve classic embryology questions surrounding the generation of the three germ layers , symmetry breaking, and axis formation, and could eventually lead to replacement of defective parts of the body through organoid-generated tissue and organ transplantation.
Also yesterday published in Nature the news that a group of researchers had managed to create brain organoids thanks to the fact that they have found a method that constantly makes cell types grow in the same order as the developing human cortex.
A whole world is opening up for medical research, and this is just the starting point.