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‘Organs in a dish’ coming of age in diabetes research


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2 minutes

Linda G. Griffith, PhD
Linda G. Griffith, PhD

One of the most recent developments in diabetes research is the use of organoids, sometimes called “organs in a dish,” which are three-dimensional structures grown in a lab that mimic human organs in vivo. Organoids have been grown for organs such as the pancreas, kidney, gut, and liver, as well as the brain and eye.

Four researchers will describe the current state and future potential of organoid and ‘physiomimetic’ research during the Scientific Sessions symposium The New Physiology—Organs in a Dish—Promises, Pitfalls, and Potential Clinical Applications, which will begin at 1:45 p.m. CT Saturday, June 13.

Linda G. Griffith, PhD, School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation, Biological Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will discuss the integration of organs-on-chips with systems biology to humanize drug development. Dr. Griffith leads the PhysioMimetics program, a cooperative agreement between MIT and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that combines tissue engineering, hardware engineering, and translational systems pharmacology to mimic organ systems interacting with drugs and treatments to determine efficacy and toxicity.

“The time for modeling human immunology in human systems is now,” Dr. Griffith said. “Mice cannot recapitulate features of chronic human inflammatory diseases, like type 2 diabetes, so these new physiomimetic approaches are needed. We are now building models with microvascular networks and complex human gut microbiomes to reflect gut-liver interactions.”

Dr. Griffith and her research team have developed an insulin resistance model in vitro using human liver in a microreactor. “We have connected a liver, gut, and other organs that are all-human and contain innate and adaptive immune systems,” she said.

The session includes three additional presentations on organoid research:

  • “Long-Term Expansion of Pancreatic Islet Organoids from Resident Procr Progenitors” by Yi Arial Zeng, PhD, Professor in the
    Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • “Organoids to Study Human and Molecular Genetics of Fatty Liver Disease” by Stefano Romeo, MD, PhD, Professor in Molecular and Clinical Medicine in the Institute of Medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden
  • “Synergistic Engineering of an Ex Vivo Type 2 Diabetes Model—Organoids and Organs on a Chip” by John P. Wikswo Jr., PhD, Founding Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and Physics at Vanderbilt University


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