Scientists Discover Regenerative Cell Process That May Reverse Liver Disease
There is a much greater demand for liver transplants than there are available livers. But a liver transplant may not be the only way to save a patient on the waiting list in the future. Now, there is hope that a new technology might help the body enhance the production of healthy cells, so that the liver could literally repair itself.
The liver produces two kinds of cells: bile duct cells and hepatocyte cells. Hepatocyte cells perform a cleansing function in the liver, flushing out toxins, but In diseased liver tissue, such as cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis, the liver produces more bile duct cells.
Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, together with researchers from Glasgow, Belgium, and the Netherlands, have discovered how to encourage the production of hepatocyte cells in greater abundance.
They increased the production of hepatocyte cells by altering the expression of certain genes in early stage liver cells. This new-found technology, if incorporated into a drug, would theoretically help the liver repair itself.
Dr Rob Buckle, head of regenerative medicine at the MRC, said: "Liver transplants have saved countless lives over the years, but demand will inevitably outstrip supply and in the long term we need to look beyond replacing damaged tissues to exploiting the regenerative potential of the human body."
Source: Press Association