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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Printing Human Liver - Cirrhosis


The therapy of choice for end-stage liver disease is whole-organ liver transplantation, but this option is limited by a shortage of donor organs. Following recent advancements of stem cell research, the potential for organ regeneration using somatic stem cells as an ultimate therapy for organ failure has increased. However, anatomically complicated organs such as the liver have proven more refractory to stem cell-based regenerative techniques.

Cell-based therapies and hepatic tissue engineering have been considered as alternatives to liver transplantation, but neither has proven effective to date. A regenerative medicine approach for liver replacement has recently been described that includes the use of a three-dimensional organ scaffold prepared by decellularization of xenogeneic liver.

Research is underway to gain a better understanding of the healthy liver and how new cell therapies could work. Scientists are also developing more effective ways to grow large numbers of liver cells (hepatocytes) from embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells in the lab. Such research is not only useful for potential new therapies. In the shorter term, lab-grown hepatocytes are likely to play an important role in the development of new drugs and artificial liver machines.

Regenerative medicine has been called the “next evolution of medical treatments,” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With its potential to heal, this new field of science is expected to revolutionize health care.

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