London: Scientists in Japan have used stem cells to grow tiny functioning livers in the laboratory.
The team at the Yokohama City University is hoping that liver failure could be reversed by transplanting thousands of liver buds.
They were trying to reproduce the earliest stages of liver development, which is similar to that in an embryo and for that they mixed 3 types of cells - two types of stem cells and material taken from the umbilical cord.
However, to their surprise the cells started to organise themselves and started curling to form a liver bud.
And when these buds were transplanted into mice, they hooked themselves up with the blood supply and began functioning as little livers, the BBC reported.
The transplants raided the lifespan of mice with liver failure.
However, turning this process into a treatment is still a distant thought, as the buds are 4-5mm long, however, researchers say that they will need to develop buds which are much minuscule and could be injected into the blood.
Though the buds will not grow into a whole new liver, but will embed themselves in the one which is failing and help restore it.
The findings have been published in Nature.