“Calling organoids ‘mini-organs’ gives false hope to patients, who may believe that replacement organs are already being grown in the lab”

Lcientists have, over the last ten years, perfected culture conditions that allow cells to self-organize in space as they do during the initial development of an organ in the human body. Thus, tissue fragments that partially mimic the architecture and certain functions of the target organ can be produced in the laboratory. They are called organoids.

These have generated a lot of interest in recent years because of their potential to revolutionize the fields of developmental biology, regenerative medicine, drug discovery and personalized treatments. Since they are considered to be substitutes for the organs they represent, they are highly relevant models for exploring the complex world of human biology. They have already played an essential role in understanding developmental biology, in modeling diseases and in analyzing the theutic and toxic effects of , allowing researchers to study the effects of genetic mutations, environmental factors and potential treatments on human cells.

Organoids have also proven valuable in the field of personalized medicine; indeed, by using organoids derived from patient cells, it is possible to test the efficacy of in the context of a given genetic heritage. This could therefore revolutionize the way we approach the treatment of pathologies such as cancer or inflammatory diseases, by adapting therapies to the specific needs of each individual.

More or less reproducible production

In order to communicate these advances, the general press readily uses the term “mini-organs” (“mini-liver”, “minibrain”, etc.), yet this leads to widespread misconceptions and false promises about the current status and potential of this emerging technology. It is essential to understand that organoids are not fully functional, miniature versions of organs.

They are, to date, mostly devoid of essential components, such as blood vessels, immune cells, neurons and certain specific cell types, which, together with their very small size, makes them fundamentally different from complex organs and fully functional that are found in the human body. Moreover, despite a significant effort to harmonize protocols, the self-organization of organoids introduces a random element which makes their production more or less reproducible depending on the organs they imitate.

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