Thyroid organoids: measuring hormonal changes in a dish

17 December 2021

Researchers from the lab of Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute) – in collaboration with the UMC Utrecht, the Utrecht Platform of Organoid Technology (UPORT) and Maastricht University – used organoid technology to grow miniature human thyroids that produce thyroid hormones. These mini-thyroids can be used to model how thyroid hormones are produced and how this is regulated in health and disease. 

Scientists worldwide can use the model to identify new treatment options for patients suffering from thyroid diseases, like Graves’ disease. The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on the 13th of December. 

The thyroid gland is responsible for maintaining a stable metabolism of the human body throughout different seasons and it does so by secretion of thyroid hormones into the blood stream. These hormones are essential for everyday life. Menno Vriens (UMCU), endocrine surgeon and co-author on the project, explains: “Dysfunction of the thyroid gland leads to a wide variety of symptoms due to the diversity of functions of the thyroid hormones. Diseases caused by a misbalance in the secretion of thyroid hormones, called hypo- or hyperthyroidism, emphasize the necessity of tight regulation of hormone production.” However, understanding the exact biology behind the functioning of the human thyroid gland requires a reliable laboratory model. Reason enough for the group of Hans Clevers to develop an organoid-based model for the healthy adult thyroid.

Read the full article on the Hubrecht Institute. 

Hubrecht Institute

The Hubrecht Institute is a research institute focusing on developmental and stem cell biology. It encompasses 24 research groups that perform fundamental and multidisciplinary research, both in healthy systems and disease models. The Hubrecht Institute is a research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)., located on the Utrecht Science Park ‘De Uithof’. Since 2008, the institute has been affiliated with the University Medical Center Utrecht, advancing the translation of research into clinical practice. The Hubrecht Institute has a partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). 

The Hubrecht Institute is located in Utrecht (Uppsalalaan 8, 3584 CT Utrecht).

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