Scientists Use a Technique To Regrow and Fix Damaged Liver From Lab-Grown Cells; First in the World
Scientists have utilized a technique to develop bile duct organoids, frequently called ‘mini-organs,’ in the laboratory and shown that they can fix impaired human livers. This is the first time that such a method has been applied to human organs.
EurekAlert reported, the study gave way to cell therapies for the treatment of liver disease. Meaning, growing ‘mini-bile ducts’ in the laboratory as replacement parts that can restore an individual’s own liver to health or repair impaired organ donor livers for them to be still used for transplantation.
Essentially, bile ducts function as the waste disposal system of the liver, and, according to the said report, “malfunctioning bile ducts are behind “one-third of adults, and 70 percent of liver transplantations of children, without any alternative treatment.
Shortage of Liver Donors
At present, there is a scarcity of liver donors. The National Health Service said the average waiting period for a liver transplant in the United Kingdom is “135 days for adults and 73 days for children.”
Meaning, only a limited number of patients can benefit from this treatment. Methods to increase the availability of the organ or offer a substitute to total organ transplantation are instantaneously needed.
Essentially, cell-based therapies could offer a beneficial substitute. Nevertheless, these new therapies’ progress is frequently damaged and deferred by the lack of a suitable model to have their safety and efficacy tested in humans before embarking on clinical tests.
In a study Science published, researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a new method, taking advantage of a recent perfusion system that can be applied to maintain donated organs outside the body.
Utilizing such a technology, for the first time, the scientists demonstrated that it is possible to “transplant biliary cells” developed and grown in the laboratory, also identified as “cholangiocytes” into an impaired human.
Using this technology, they demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to transplant biliary cells grown in the lab known as cholangiocytes into damaged human livers to repair them.
As proof-of-principle for their method, they repaired livers deemed unsuitable for transplantation due to bile duct damage. This approach could be applied to a diversity of organs and diseases to accelerate cell-based therapy’s clinical application.
According to Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute’s Dr. Fotios Sampaziotis, given the lingering shortage of donor organs, it is essential to look at ways of fixing impaired organs or even offer alternatives to organ transplantation.
The Single-Cell RNA Sequencing Method
The expert also said they have been using organoids for many years to understand both biology and their disease or their regeneration capacity in small animals. However, they have hoped they could use them to repair human impaired tissue.
This particular research is the first to present, in principle, that “this should be possible,” explained Dr. Sampaziotis.
Furthermore, using the method of single-cell RNA sequencing, as well as organoid culture, the scientists discovered that, even though duct cells differ, biliary cells from the gallbladder, which is typically spared by the disease, could be converted to the bile ducts’ cells destroyed in disease also identified as “intrahepatic ducts,” and the other way around through the use of a component of bile called the ‘bile acid.’