Lab-grown lung organoids mimic human counterpart

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Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in New York have successfully grown lung organoids from human pluripotent stem cells. These 3D structures that mimic a fully-grown lung aim to improve research into respiratory diseases.

These organoids are the first to feature branching airway and alveolar structures similar to human lungs. Researchers, who have published work in Nature Cell Biology, hope to improve research models and drug development into regenerating tissue.

"Researchers have taken up the challenge of creating organoids to help us understand and treat a variety of diseases," said Hans-Willem Snoeck, PhD, professor of medicine in microbiology and immunology at CUMC and lead investigator of the study. "But we have been tested by our limited ability to create organoids that can replicate key features of human disease."

Snoeck and his team were able to create organoids that mimicked lung reactions to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and pulmonary fibrosis. These mimicked reactions to diseases with complex treatments give researchers the ability to test possible drug solutions.

"Organoids, created with human pluripotent or genome-edited embryonic stem cells, may be the best, and perhaps only, way to gain insight into the pathogenesis of these diseases," said Snoeck.