One of the greatest breakthroughs of the last decade is the ability to grow mini-organs, known as organoids, in the laboratory. Under certain conditions, stem cells can self-organise into small structures with recognisable features, providing ideal isolated systems in which to study the function of complex organs and test new drugs. The latest tissues to be investigated using organoids are the fallopian tubes, the ducts connecting the ovaries to the uterus. Both the entry point for ovarian infections and a common site for the development of ovarian cancers, these are critical organs for female health. To replicate the lining of the tubes, researchers produced hollow spheres of cells, as shown here in cross-section, from fallopian tube stem cells. While fallopian cells are difficult to culture with more conventional methods, these organoids may enable a better understanding of a range of gynaecological conditions, from cancer to infertility.
Written by Emmanuelle Briolat
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