These ‘organoids’ are miniature laboratory models of human organs grown from biopsies of patients’ livers.
Under the right stimulus, a few initially unorganised liver cells multiply to form structures that biologically and functionally resemble complex liver tissue. They can form spheres of up to half a millimetre in diameter which are visible to the naked eye.
Stefanie and Kathryn’s lab at WEHI uses organoids – the round objects seen in the image – to test drugs targeting infections of the liver such as hepatitis B. Red marks the nuclei of individual cells and orange shows dying cells.
The ‘exploding’ organoid at the top was treated with a drug that triggers the death of infected, diseased cells.