Artificial organ research findings presented by University of Pittsburgh researchers

NOTE: 4th paragraph of this release has been updated since its original posting.

WASHINGTON, June 18 The clinical and basic science findings of more than a dozen studies are being presented by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at a joint meeting of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs and the International Society for Artificial Organs. Scientific sessions take place June 18 to 21 at the Hilton Washington. Among these findings are:

Success reported in growing functioning liver tissue in a bioreactor

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 Jrg 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 for Regenerative Medicine.

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.

These findings are being presented in a poster session beginning Thursday, June 19.


Contact: Michele D. Baum
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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