-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists who created
functioning miniature livers say their success is an early, but
important, advance in the quest to grow replacement human livers in
"We are excited about the possibilities this research represents, but must stress that we're at an early stage and many technical hurdles must be overcome before it could benefit patients," project director Shay Soker, a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, said in a facility news release.
In the study, the researchers used mild detergent to remove all
the cells from animal livers, leaving only the collagen "skeleton"
or support structure. Then, the original cells were replaced with
two types of human cells: progenitors, which are immature liver
cells, and endothelial cells, which line blood vessels.
The liver skeleton with the new cells was placed in a
bioreactor, a piece of equipment that provides a constant flow of
nutrients and oxygen to the organ. Within a week, there was
progressive formation of human liver tissue and liver-associated
According to the scientists, the next step in the research is to
find out if these bioengineered livers will continue to function
after they're transplanted into an animal.
The research is to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of
the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in
Along with offering a solution to the shortage of donor livers,
bioengineered livers could be used to evaluate the safety of drugs,
Soker and colleagues pointed out.
The American Liver Foundation explains how to
take care of your liver.
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