News2013 Runners-Up

Dishing Up Mini-Organs

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1436-1437
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6165.1436-b

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In research that Science's editors chose as a runner-up for Breakthrough of the Year, scientists coaxed cells called pluripotent stem cells to grow into tiny "organoids"—liver buds, mini-kidneys, and even rudimentary human brains—in the lab. Although the brains have no blood supply and grow no bigger than an apple seed, their tissue and structure are surprisingly similar to those of developing human brains. Researchers have already used them to gain new insights into microcephaly, a condition in which the brain doesn't grow to its full size.