Although scientists commonly use mice for biomedical research, they are not always helpful for pharmaceutical testing. Because mouse livers react to drugs differently than human livers, they often can’t be used to predict whether a potential drug will be toxic to people. That means that a drug that harms the liver could make it all the way to human clinical trials before researchers discover its risks.
Now, Alice Chen, a graduate student in the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), has developed a way to overcome that problem. By growing human liver tissue inside mice, she has created “humanized” mouse livers that respond to drugs the same way a human liver does.