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Miniature livers grown in lab



From various news sources

“Liver disease kills more people in the UK than diabetes and road deaths combined, claiming more than 16,000 lives in 2008. It is the only cause of death that is still increasing year-on-year. Numbers of liver disease deaths have increased by 12% since 2005. Last year around 644 liver transplants from deceased donors were carried out in the UK. A total of 1,121 patients were on the liver transplant waiting list during 2007-08. Of these, 58% received transplants while 25% were still waiting for a new liver by the end of March 2008.” These statistics, quoted from the Daily Telegraph (UK) make for grim reading.

But, in an exciting move forward, a team led by Professor Shay Soker from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, have demonstrated that a small-scale version of a human liver can be produced in the laboratory using stem cells. This work was presented at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases conference in Boston. After de-cellularisation of an existing liver to leave behind a collagen scaffold (as previously reported), immature liver cells and endothelial cells are introduced and cultured in a bioreactor. The researchers report that after a week of culture, cell growth was observed within the structure and even showed some signs of normal liver functions. Earlier this year US scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reported using a similar scaffold technique to construct miniature rat liver grafts. They were able to transplant the organs into live rats, where they survived for several hours.


References and Sources

Whole organ decellularization - a tool for bioscaffold fabrication and organ bioengineering.

Baptista PM, Orlando G, Mirmalek-Sani SH, Siddiqui M, Atala A, Soker S.

Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2009;2009:6526-9.