Thursday, July 15, 2010

Experimental Liver Transplant Approach Shows Early Promise

(HealthDay News) -- A new approach to liver transplantation is making headway in preliminary work with rats, researchers say.

Their work at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH-CEM) could ultimately point the way toward engineering fresh, functioning and transplantable liver organs out of discarded liver material, the researchers suggest.

The research, reported online June 13 in Nature Medicine, is just at the "proof-of-concept" stage, but the team believes it has successfully fashioned a laboratory method to take stripped down structural liver tissue and essentially "reseed" it with newly introduced liver cells. The seed cells are then coaxed to adhere to the host scaffolding, so that they grow and eventually re-establish the organ's complex vascular network.

Although the highly complex technique is still far from the point at which it might be applicable to humans, the prospect is hopeful news for the liver transplant community. Because of a drastic shortage of donor organs, about 4,000 Americans are deprived of potentially life-saving liver transplants each year. Read more...

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