Professor Melissa H Little


Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia


The capacity to generate a pluripotent stem cell from any somatic cell type has revolutionised cell biology. The development of protocols for the stepwise differentiation of such pluripotent cells not only to specific cellular endpoints but complex 3D organoids representative of developing human tissues completely changes the future prospects of stem cell medicine. Such stem cell derived human tissue will drive personalised disease modelling, toxicity and screening, cell therapy and even tissue bioengineering. It will also provide a window into human development not previously available and potentially allow the dissection of the biophysical requirements for tissue self-organisation. We have developed a protocol for the generation of kidney organoids comprised of nephrons, collecting duct, vasculature and surrounding interstitium (Takasato et al, Nature, 2015) from human pluripotent stem cells. This protocol relies upon the stepwise recapitulation of morphogenetic events previously characterised during normal kidney development in the mouse. In this seminar, directed differentiation into such kidney organoids will be used as an exemplar for what may be possible within stem cell medicine into the future.