Lunch @UCSF with Zev Gartner – Building human tissue, from the bottom up
Lunch @UCSF with Zev Gartner – Building human tissue, from the bottom upDOWNLOADABLE GUIDE TO SUNDAY EVENTS
It’s one of the great marvels of biology that the simple zygote formed by the union of sperm and egg somehow knows how to build itself up into a fully formed and functional organism, complete with all its diverse organs and intricate tissues. Scientists are only beginning to understand the complex biochemical dance that guides organism development, in hopes of understanding how errors in this process can lead to disease.
Zev Gartner, Ph.D., is working to understand exactly how cells know how to assemble into multicellular tissues, as well as how the structure of tissues controls the behavior of individual cells. His group hopes to use these insights to understand how changes to tissue structure drive the progression of diseases like cancer. Toward these goals, his laboratory has developed ingenious techniques to build, perturb, and model human tissues in laboratory dishes using tools from the chemical, engineering, physical and biological sciences.
These tools offer the prospect of one day growing human organs from scratch in the lab, but for now, the lab is using them to allow them to study models of human tissues in the lab built from real human cells. Most recently Zev’s lab has developed techniques to program cells to snap together like lego blocks. The lab has used this technique grow model mammary glands in the lab in order to study why certain mutations lead to cancer and can only be blocked by particular drugs, but the technology has also led to a spin-off company working to develop lab-grown leather for the fashion industry.
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