Nature: ‘Mini liver’ to grow for first time in human body in US

April 9, 2024  10:37

A "mini liver" will be grown for the first time in a human body in the US, the journal Nature reported.

The respective operation was conceived by the biotechnology company LyGenesis (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). In the publication, the intervention was called a new era in the treatment of people whose liver was damaged and whose transplant was not performed.

The person who received the treatment, on 25 March, is recovering well from the procedure and has been discharged from the clinic, says Michael Hufford, chief executive of LyGenesis.

During the aforesaid procedure, healthy cells from the donor's liver are inserted into the lymph node in the patient's upper abdomen. Donor cells are inserted through the throat, through a special tube. It is assumed that after a few months the cells will multiply, fill the lymph node, and form a structure that can perform the function of blood purification instead of the liver.

But the patient needs to take immunosuppressive drugs so that the body doesn’t reject the donor cells, says Stuart Forbes, a hepatologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK, who is not affiliated with LyGenesis.

The method was tested on mice, dogs, and pigs. The mini-liver of pigs was formed within two months. Cells that transport bile have also been found in the experimental organs of pigs. Moreover, bile acid did not accumulate.

According to Michael Hufford, it is not known what size the new liver can reach in the human body. Perhaps the growth of the mini-organ depends on the chemical signals of the decomposing liver. The CEO of LyGenesis believes that new organs will stop growing when they stabilize blood filtration, then no signals will be received from the decaying organ.

More than 50,000 people in the US die each year with liver disease. About 1,000 people in the country die every year waiting for a transplant. And thousands more aren’t eligible because they are too ill to undergo the procedure.

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