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First intact organ 'grown' through transplanting cells

Reprogrammed cells created in a laboratory have been used to build a complete and functional organ in a living animal for the first time.

British scientists produced a working thymus, a vital immune system "nerve centre" located near the heart.

In future the technique, so far only tested on mice, could be used to provide replacement organs for people with weakened immune systems, scientists believe.

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Growing replacement organs from cells a 'holy grail'

The ability to grow replacement organs from cells in laboratories is one of the 'holy grails' in regenerative medicine, Professor Clare Blackburn from the Medical Research Council (MRC) has said, after it was announced that scientists had created a fully functional organ. She added:

By directly reprogramming cells we've managed to produce an artificial cell type that, when transplanted, can form a fully organised and functional organ. This is an important first step towards the goal of generating a clinically useful artificial thymus in the lab.

– Professor Clare Blackburn, Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh

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