Stem cell therapy ‘could cut liver transplants’

The liver is known to be one of the few major organs able to regenerate itself when parts have been removed. With that as the basis, scientists believe they can encourage this natural tendency by inserting stem cells into the damaged livers of rodents. More specifically, they used Mesenchymal stem cells found in the bone marrow.

Scientists have discovered a new way of treating liver failure — the technique involves inserting stem cells into the damaged organ so that it is encouraged to repair itself and create new tissue.

“We have identified a non-hepatic source of cells that can easily be expanded to the scale required for clinical application,” Dr Martin Yarmush, who led the study published in the Public Library of Science journal.

According to the researchers, the treatment will allow patients to live long enough for a new organ to found and could even enable the liver to completely heal itself so a transplant is no longer needed. The demand for new organs is currently so high that many patients die on the waiting list or are taken off because their condition deteriorates to the extent that they would not survive the operation.

More details are available in this report by The Telegraph in London.

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