Human liver repaired using cells grown in a lab in a first for regenerative medicine.
A THIRD of liver transplants in adults and 70 per cent in children are due to malfunctioning bile ducts, the liver’s waste disposal system.
And even after transplantation, the disease can return.
But with a shortage of livers, patients could wait for months for a donor, so researchers began searching for an alternative treatment to see if the liver could instead be repaired.
And in a scientific first, lab-grown ‘mini bile ducts’ have been used to repair human livers, paving the way for new regenerative medicine treatments.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge grew replacement liver cells in a laboratory and used them to repair donor livers that had been damaged, making them suitable for transplantation.
This is the first time that a procedure of this kind has been used on human donor organs, and it is hoped it could also increase the number of livers that are considered suitable for organ transplantation and ultimately save more lives.
“The research provides a proof-of-principle for the development of new cell-based therapies and this approach could be applied to a range of organs and diseases to accelerate more cell-based therapy research,” said researchers.
Professor Ludovic Vallier, theme lead for Transplant and Regenerative Medicine theme at NIHR Cambridge BRC and joint senior author of the, added: “This is the first time that we’ve been able to show that a human liver can be enhanced or repaired using cells grown in the lab.
“We have further work to do to test the safety and viability of this approach, but hope we will be able to transfer this into the clinic in the coming years.”
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