This Stem Cell Can Grow New Livers Inside Humans

In an early experiment, Lagasse found that after injecting healthy liver cells into the abdominal cavity of mice, the cells grow well and form a second, smaller liver to take over the duties of a failed animal. The new livers grew to 70 percent of the size of the original liver. “What happened was that the liver grew to its normal size and stopped growing when it reached the level it needed to function properly,” says Lagasse.

At the University of Pittsburgh, Lagasse and his colleagues also tried the pig method. In a study published in 2020, found that pigs regained liver function after receiving intraperitoneal injections of liver cells. When scientists examined lymph nodes with young livers, they found that blood vessels and spleens formed on their own. The more damaged a pig’s liver is, the more secondary livers develop, which means that the animal’s body can recognize the healthy liver and transfer its responsibility.

“It is amazing to realize that the lymph nodes are a fertile and productive bed for the regeneration of different types of animals and organs of two different types,” said Abla Creasey, vice president of drug development at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. company strategy. “These results suggest that such a method may provide an alternative muscle pathway for patients with weakened limbs,”

Elliot Tapper, a liver specialist at the University of Michigan, is also excited about the prospect of turning a lymph node into a new liver. He said: “Even though the liver is not where it should be, it still works in the liver.”

The main benefit of LyGenesis treatment, he says, would be to remove ammonia from the blood. At the end of liver disease, ammonia can build up and go to the brain, where it causes confusion, mood swings, collapse, and sometimes fainting. They do not think that the new organs can perform all the functions of the natural liver, because they contain other types of cells than hepatocytes.

One of the big questions is how many cells will be needed for people to grow a large liver to take on other important functions, such as filtering blood and making bile. In the LyGenesis trial, three additional patients will receive an injection of 50 million cells into one lymph node – a very low “dose”. If this seems safe, the second group of four will take 150 million cells into three different lymph nodes. The third group will find 250 million cells in five lymph nodes – meaning they may have five small livers growing inside them.

The effects of this medicine do not happen immediately. Hufford says it can take two to three months for the new organ to grow enough to handle the rest of the liver’s functions. And as organ recipients, trial participants will need to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent their bodies from rejecting the donor cells.

If the method works, it could provide a life-saving option for some patients. “Once they prove it’s effective and safe,” Tapper says, “there will be people who want to take action.”

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