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New Liver ‘Stem Cell’ Discovery To Replace Liver Transplants
Source: Thailand Medical News Jul 27, 2019 4 years, 1 month, 4 weeks, 2 days, 23 hours, 46 minutes ago
Liver transplants are traditionally expensive and complicated surgical procedures that removes a liver that no longer functions properly (liver failure) and replaces it with a healthy liver from a living or deceased donor. In 2018, more than 2 million such procedures were performed with more than 4.8 million people on a still on a wait list.
With the new discovery by researchers from King's College London, things might change and liver transplants might no longer be needed and instead a newer, cheaper and easier procedure might replace involving the usage of specialized liver cells that can regenerate by themselves.
The researchers had used single cell RNA sequencing to identify a type of cell that may be able to regenerate liver tissue and have identified a new type of cell called a hepatobiliary hybrid progenitor (HHyP), that forms during early human development in the womb. HHyP also persist in small quantities in adults and these cells can grow into the two main cell types of the adult liver (Hepatocytes and Cholangiocytes) giving HHyPs stem cell like features. The team examined HHyPs and found that they resemble animal model stem cells which have been found to rapidly repair their liver following major injury, such as occurs in cirrhosis.
"In a breakthrough discovery, we have found that cells with true stem cell like properties may well exist in the human liver. This in turn could provide a wide range of regenerative medicine applications for treating liver disease, including the possibility of bypassing the need for liver transplants." commented lead researcher Dr Tamir Rashid in an exclusive interview with Thailand Medical News.
Liver disease is the sixth biggest killer in the world and the fourth of most common cause of premature death, and the number of cases is continuing to rise. This can be attributed to lifestyle issues such as obesity, viruses, alcohol misuse or by non-lifestyle issues such as autoimmune and genetic mediated disease.
Common symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, itching and feelings of weakness and tiredness and in more severe cases, cirrhosis. The only treatment for severe liver diseases at present is a liver transplant which is expensive and complex ,and leads to a lifetime of complications and for which the need for donor organs greatly outweighs the increasing demands.
The team from King's College London is now working rapidly to unlock the recipe for converting pluripotent stem cells into HHyPs so that they could transplant those cells into patients at will. In the longer term, they will also be working to see if they can reprogramme HHyPs within the body using novel pharmacological drugs to repair diseased livers without either cell or organ transplantation.
Reference: Single cell analysis of human foetal liver captures the transcriptional profile of hepatobiliary hybrid progenitors Joe M. Segal1,8, Deniz Kent1,8, Daniel J.. Tamir Rashid1,2, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS | (2019)10:3350 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11266-x
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