Lab-grown human organs are not yet available. Building a natural organ that can maintain its function, and that won’t be rejected by the body’s immune system, will require many further years of basic research, using both animal models and human cells.
A different and promising avenue for replacing tissues and organs damaged by disease or injury is regenerative medicine, the ability to grow healthy new tissues and organs using the patient’s own cells so the body does not reject the new material. Several Jackson Laboratory scientists are at the forefront of this work.
What is now in labs are organelles, small clusters of tissues from a specific organ. For example, a Jackson Laboratory scientist, Travis Hinson, M.D., is growing a “heart-in-a-dish,” cells from patients with heart disease that he can study in detail.
It’s important to note that the past seven decades of successful organ transplantations depended on research using mice. Jackson Laboratory scientist George Snell won the 1980 Nobel prize for his work in the 1940s establishing how the body’s immune system recognizes the difference between its own tissues and foreign invaders. His discoveries paved the way for treatments to suppress the immune system and prevent rejection of transplanted organs.