Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed a device for growing liver tissue outside of the body to use as a blood filtering device that is analogous to a kidney dialysis device. This device has been used on 8 people so far.
Growing functioning liver tissue in a fist-sized device that works in a way similar to kidney dialysis has kept patients in liver failure alive until donor organs have become available, according to Jörg Gerlach, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We have treated eight patients in acute liver failure - some of whom were in a coma - who were able to be bridged to transplant," said Dr. Gerlach, who also is a faculty member of the university's McGowan Institute.
Dr. Gerlach and his colleagues have been able to grow functioning liver tissue from human liver stem cells derived from organs that had been deemed unsuitable for transplant because of damage or underlying disease. Such cells have been shown to proliferate and form liver-like tissues in bioreactors, and persist in culture for many weeks.
About 25 million Americans - one in 10 - have liver disease, according to the American Liver Foundation. More than 43,000 people die of liver disease yearly. Annual hospitalization costs exceed $8 billion. Dr. Gerlach's bioreactor could have an impact for the sickest of these patients, who often do not survive the wait for transplantation or become too sick to qualify for a transplant.
Once the ability to grow replacement livers is developed then one future application for this type of device would be to give a person time to live while a replacement liver was grown from his own cells in an artificial vat.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2003 June 23 10:04 PM Biotech Organ Replacement|