The advance is described in a study to be published
The scientists performed their experiments in mice, but the adipose stem cells they used came from human liposuction aspirates and became human, liver-like cells that flourished inside the mice's bodies. This method is distinct from those producing liver cells from embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells. Although iPS and embryonic stem cells are pluripotent - they can, in principle, differentiate into every cell type - they carry a palpable risk of forming tumors. However, the cells produced using this new technique, which involves no intermediate pluripotent phase, show no signs of being tumorogenic.
The liver is the body's chemistry set. It builds complex biomolecules we need, and it filters and breaks down waste products and toxic substances that might otherwise accumulate to dangerous levels. Unlike most other organs, a healthy liver can regenerate itself to a significant extent. But this capacity cannot overcome acute liver poisoning or damage from chronic alcoholism or viral hepatitis.
Acute liver failure from acetaminophen alone takes about 500 lives annually and accounts for close to 60,000 emergency-room visits and more than 25,000 hospitalizations annually. Other environmental toxins, including poisonous mushrooms, contribute still more cases.
All aspects of the new fat-to-liver technique are adaptable for human use, said
Some 6,300 liver transplants are performed annually in
"We believe our method will be transferable to the clinic," Peltz said. "And because the new liver tissue is derived from a person's own cells, we do not expect that immunosuppressants will be needed."
Liver cells are not something an adipose stem cell normally wants to turn into, Peltz said.
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