Classical experiments performed half a century ago demonstrated the immense self-organizing capacity of vertebrate cells. Even after complete dissociation, cells can reaggregate and reconstruct the original architecture of an organ. More recently, this outstanding feature was used to rebuild organ parts or even complete organs from tissue or embryonic stem cells. Such stem cell-derived three-dimensional cultures are called organoids. Because organoids can be grown from human stem cells and from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells, they have the potential to model human development and disease. Furthermore, they have potential for drug testing and even future organ replacement strategies. Here, we summarize this rapidly evolving field and outline the potential of organoid technology for future biomedical research.
Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.