Bredenkamp et al. recently described how cellular reprogramming can be used to generate an entire organ for transplantation, using cells manipulated in the lab. The novelty of this study compared to past studies demonstrating the production of defined cell types in vitro, is that Bredenkamp et al. describe for the first time the creation of a fully intact and functional organ.
FOXN1 is a critical transcription factor ? for the development of thymic epithelial cells (TECs). Bredenkamp et al. showed that enforced ?Foxn1 expression is sufficient to reprogramme fibroblasts into functional TECs, which supported efficient development of both ?CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in vitro. On transplantation, these TECs established a complete, fully organized and functional thymus containing all of the TEC subtypes required to support T-cell differentiation.
These results are very promising for the future of “regenerative medicine”, the goal of which is to generate transplantable organs from cells derived or expanded in vitro.
Bredenkamp N., et al. An organized and functional thymus generated from ?FOXN1-reprogrammed fibroblasts Nature Cell Biology (2014) doi:10.1038/ncb3023, http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ncb3023.html
posted by Yannis Trakadis, MD