An interview with Prof. Aline Miller, BSc(Hons) PhD FRSC FInstP, Chief Executive Office, Director and Founder, Manchester BIOGEL
Please give an overview of organoids. Why are they an important research model?
Organoids are 3-dimensional (3D) clusters of stem cells that come together and emulate the microenvironment within individual organs, whether that be liver, kidney, heart, gut or other specific organs. Essentially, they can be viewed as miniature, simplified organs. They typically range in size from a few micrometers to five millimeter and there are potentially as many different organoids as there are different tissues and organs in the body. Such a diverse range of organoids can form by controlling the differentiation of the specific stem cell used, which can be influenced by the cells receiving instructive signals from the 3D extracellular matrix (ECM), the medium and once the 3D structure assembles, by the cells present in the organoids themselves.
Image credit: Dimarion | Shutterstock
There is considerable attention and excitement surrounding organoids at the moment as they have the potential to revolutionize the way diseases are studied and treated. Growing human derived tissues in the tissue culture dish opens up the opportunity to study the fundamental cell biology within individual organs, model human disease from individual patients and test reliably new drug compounds to decrease late stage failure of therapeutics