Artificial liver moves toward commercialization

Emergency device could save lives

SAN FRANCISCO -- In cases of severe liver failure, often the only effective alternative to keep a patient alive is a liver transplant. Due to a severe shortage of donor organs, many patients die waiting for suitable organs. An artificial liver that provides temporary support of a person's liver function can serve as a bridge to transplant or as a short-term treatment. Prototype devices, which filter blood toxins that build up as a result of liver damage, have been used in limited clinical trials to support patients. Advances in the development of this device, which could save many lives in the future, will be highlighted at the 219th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

  • Upgraded device awaits human trials: The University of Minnesota bioartificial liver is among the earliest prototype devices still under development. To make it function longer than other models, researchers are using freshly isolated pig liver cells -- believed to work better than frozen liver cells -- as the substitute chemical-processing unit for the patient's liver. The first human clinical trials of this prototype device are scheduled to begin soon, pending U. S. Food and Drug Administration approval, among several patients with severe liver failure. (D. N. Adams, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.; BIOT 81; Monday, March 27, 4:25 p.m.; Moscone Convention Center, Room 300, Esplanade Level. See page 68 in the final program.)

  • Improving device performance: Artificial livers currently being tested employ straight-line hollow fiber bioreactors to house the chemical-processing cells that substitute for the human liver. Such devices are subject to clogging and transport difficulties, resulting in poor transport of nu

Contact: charmayne Marsh
American Chemical Society

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