Scientists create human liver cells using stem cells

Emerging Healthcare Solutions (Pink Sheets:EHSI) President and CEO Cindy Morrissey said Tuesday that a recent study at the University of Cambridge seems to indicate that realistic stem cell therapies to replace diseased or damaged tissues may be closer than ever.

“Not only will these liver cells produced in a laboratory allow new kinds of research to be carried out on inherited liver diseases, but the process by which the cells were created completely sidesteps the political debate over the use of embryonic stem cells.”

According to a study by the Journal of Clinical Investigation last month, scientists from Cambridge’s Institute for Medical Research collected skin cells from 10 patients, seven of whom suffer from various forms of inherited liver disease, as well as three healthy control subjects. Researchers reprogrammed these skin cells, rejuvenating them into pluripotent stem cells before triggering their conversion into liver cells. For the first time, scientists were able to create human liver cells in a lab, opening the possibility for new treatments for liver diseases.

“This is truly an amazing breakthrough,” Morrissey said. “Not only will these liver cells produced in a laboratory allow new kinds of research to be carried out on inherited liver diseases, but the process by which the cells were created completely sidesteps the political debate over the use of embryonic stem cells.”

Stem cells harvested from human embryos have been believed to be more malleable and useful for medical research, but in this case, the Cambridge research team claims the liver cells it created from skin are just as useful as any created using stem cells.

“This study represents another step towards making stem cell treatments commonplace,” Morrissey said. “Scientists are already experimenting with stem cells in order to one day repair or replace a variety of critical organs.”

Liver diseases are typically inherited or caused by alcohol abuse or infections such as hepatitis. There has long been a shortage of donor organs for people with fatal liver problems, a leading cause of death in developed nations. The study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation gives hope to many that new forms of cell therapy could be discovered to help liver patients unable to get an organ for transplant.

Emerging Healthcare Solutions keeps a close eye on stem cell research worldwide. In March, the company signed a profit participation deal with Celulas Genetica, a biotech firm dedicated to developing radically new medical solutions using adult stem cell research.

Source : Emerging Healthcare Solutions

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