Fresh hopes for trans­plant pa­tients after Scots team’s break­through

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Vic­to­ria Allen Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent

TRANS­PLANT pa­tients have new hope after Scots sci­en­tists suc­cess­fully grew liver tis­sue that could be used to help those whose or­gans fail.

The av­er­age wait for a liver trans­plant in Bri­tain is four months, leav­ing many peo­ple se­verely ill and at risk of death.

But liver tis­sue grown from hu­man stem cells by re­searchers at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity could help a fail­ing or­gan fil­ter harm­ful tox­ins from the blood.

When the tis­sue was trans­planted into mice, they re­gained weight, showed fewer signs of liver dam­age and had fewer tox­ins in their blood.

The re­searchers say that the pro­ce­dure is po­ten­tially only five years away from hu­man tri­als and could be avail­able to pa­tients in a decade. Pro­fes­sor David Hay,

‘Many with liver dis­ease die wait­ing’

who led the re­search, said: ‘Liver dis­ease is a se­ri­ous and in­creas­ing prob­lem – it’s the fifth-big­gest killer in the UK.

‘Many peo­ple with liver dis­ease will die wait­ing for a trans­plant or de­velop com­pli­ca­tions from long-term ex­po­sure to im­muno­sup­pres­sant drugs after a trans­plant, so we ur­gently need al­ter­na­tives.

‘These re­sults are an im­por­tant early step and now we need to con­duct longert­erm stud­ies to fully es­tab­lish the safety of this tech­nique.’

He added: ‘We’re ex­cited that the im­plants suc­cess­fully aided liver func­tion. We hope im­plants like these may one day be able to help peo­ple with fail­ing liv­ers.’

The re­search was pub­lished in the jour­nal Archives of Tox­i­col­ogy. Sci­en­tists have pre­vi­ously been able to grow liver tis­sue from stem cells but these have be short-lived.

Dr Rob Buckle, chief sci­ence of­fi­cer at the Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil, said: ‘This re­search brings us a step closer to har­ness­ing the po­ten­tial of stem cell “re­pro­gram­ming” tech­nolo­gies to pro­vide re­new­able sup­plies of liver tis­sue prod­ucts for trans­plan­ta­tion.’

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