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Damaged liver 'could be repaired using adult stem cells'
By ANI | ANI – Thu, May 12, 2011

Washington, May 12 (ANI): For the first time, researchers have found a way to repair damaged livers using adult stem cells.

The finding by Johns Hopkins researchers could one day be used as an alternative to liver transplant in patients with serious liver diseases, bypassing long waiting lists for organs and concerns about immune system rejection of the donated tissue.

They have demonstrated that human liver cells taken from adult stem cells - known as induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) - coaxed into an embryonic state can engraft and begin regenerating liver tissue in mice with chronic liver damage.

"Our findings provide a foundation for producing functional liver cells for patients who suffer liver diseases and are in need of transplantation," said Yoon-Young Jang, assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

"iPSC-derived liver cells not only can be generated in large amounts, but also can be tailored to each patient, preventing immune-rejection problems associated with liver transplants from unmatched donors or embryonic stem cells," she added.

iPSCs are made from adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to revert to an embryonic stem cell-like state, with the ability to transform into different cell types.

Human iPSCs can be generated from various tissues, including skin, blood and liver cells.

Although the liver can regenerate in the body, end-stage liver failure caused by diseases like cirrhosis and cancers eventually destroy the liver's regenerative ability, said Jang.

Currently, the only option for those patients is to receive a liver organ or liver cell transplant, a supply problem given the severe shortage of donor liver tissue for transplantation.

In addition, mature liver cells and adult liver stem cells are difficult to isolate or grow in the laboratory, said Jang.

By contrast, iPSCs can be made from a tiny amount of many kinds of tissue; and the embryonic stem-like iPSCs can grow in laboratory cultures indefinitely.

For the study, Jang and colleagues generated human iPSCs from a variety of adult human cells, including liver cells, fibroblasts (connective tissue cells), bone marrow stem cells and skin cells.

They found that though the iPSCs overall were molecularly similar to each other and to embryonic stem cells, they retained a distinct molecular 'signature' inherited from the cell of origin.

Next, they chemically induced the iPSCs to differentiate first into immature and then more mature liver cell types. Regardless of their origin, the different iPSC lines all showed the same ability to develop into liver cells.

Using mice with humanlike liver cirrhosis, the researchers then injected the animals with either 2 million human iPSC-derived liver cells or with normal human liver cells.

They discovered that the iPSC-derived liver cells engrafted to the mouse liver with an efficiency of eight to 15 percent, a rate similar to the engraftment rate for adult human liver cells at 11 percent.

The study is published in the May 11 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine. (ANI)

 

Girl cured by using her 'own stem cells'


Washington, May 10 : A surgeon has used stem cell technology to cure a girl.

Surgeon and Professor Michael Olausson was able to create a new connection with the aid of a blood vessel between the liver and the intestines, necessary to cure the girl.

The girl developed during her first year of life a blood clot in the blood vessel that leads blood from the intestines to the liver.

This introduced the risk that she would experience life-threatening internal bleeding. The condition can be cured if it is possible to direct the blood along the correct path, back into the liver.

In optimal cases, the surgery can be performed using blood vessels from other parts of the patient''s body, but a liver transplant may be necessary if the surgery is unsuccessful due to a lack of sufficient blood vessels. A liver transplant will involve subsequent lifelong treatment with immunosuppressive drugs.

Blood vessels from a dead donor were used in the present case. The vessel was then chemically treated to remove all cells RNA and DNA. This left just the supporting tissue. Stem cells were then obtained from the girl''s bone marrow and these were added to the supporting tissue. A new blood vessel grew in just under four weeks. This was used during the surgery in order to create the new connection between the liver and the intestines, necessary to cure the girl.

"We carried out the surgery over three months ago now, and the result was very good, with no serious complications. To our knowledge this is the first procedure of this type in the world, said Michael Olausson at the Transplant Centre, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and professor at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

“The girl is in good health, and we believe that her prognosis is very good. Since the vessel was created with the girl''s own stem cells, she does not need to take drugs to prevent rejection", added Olausson.

The procedure shows that it is possible to create new blood vessels from stem cells, using a previous blood vessel as a template. This can lead to the condition that the girl suffered from being treated more easily, and with less risk for the patient.


--ANI



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