And the lymph nodes near the liver are close enough to receive chemical distress signals sent out by the dying tissue of a diseased liver, says Lagasse. These signals are meant to encourage any remaining healthy liver tissue to regenerate, but this doesn’t work in cases of severe disease. However, the signals do appear to help along the growth of liver tissue in neighboring lymph nodes.
“It’s incredible,” says Gouon-Evans. “Having this little incubator in the body [that can grow organs] is just amazing.”
Around five years ago, Lagasse, along with entrepreneur and drug developer Michael Hufford and transplant surgeon Paulo Fontes, founded LyGenesis to take the technology further. The team are exploring the use of lymph nodes to grow new thymuses, kidneys, and pancreases.
But the company’s priority is livers. Over the last 10 years, members of the team have collected promising evidence that suggests they can use