Rudimentary organs called "organoids" are being grown around the world in an effort to learn more about the specialized functions of human organs.
(The organoid bank)
Using carefully timed chemical cues, researchers around the world have produced three-dimensional structures that resemble tissue from the eye, gut, liver, kidney, pancreas, prostate, lung, stomach and breast. These bits of tissue, called organoids because they mimic some of the structure and function of real organs, are furthering knowledge of human development, serving as disease models and drug-screening platforms, and might eventually be used to rescue damaged organs (see ‘The organoid bank’). “It's probably the most significant development in the stem-cell field in the last five or six years,” says Austin Smith, director of the Wellcome Trust/MRC Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge, UK.
SF writers of past generations could only dream - and give us something to shoot for. I don't know of any specific references to the idea of artificial organs being used for research. However, in his 1969 masterpiece Ubik, Philip K. Dick introduced the idea of implanting secondary artificial organic organs - perhaps smaller versions of the originals as backup.
Probably Runciter's body contained a dozen artiforgs, artificial organs grafted into place in his physiological apparatus as the genuine, original ones, failed.
(Read more about Dick's artiforgs)
Be sure to check out this very detailed article at Nature: The boom in mini stomachs, brains, breasts, kidneys and more.
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