Cutting-edge science offers improved care for liver diseases

New Orleans, LA The liver is the largest organ in the human body, and proper functioning is critical for health and well being. Promising research in the identification, treatment and prevention of liver disease is being presented today at Digestive Disease Week in New Orleans. Digestive Disease Week (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

"Liver disease is among the top 10 killers in the U.S.," said Anna Lok, M.D., of the University of Michigan. "The size of this population requires more attention from the research community for improved preventive and treatment solutions."

Transplantation of Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells to Injured Liver (Abstract 101357*)

While stem cell transplantation continues to be controversial, research has shown significant clinical benefit for a variety of diseases. In this study, researchers from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University investigated the potential benefit of transplanting human umbilical cord blood cells (UCB) to repair damaged livers in recipient mice. UCB cells have many advantages as a source of stem cell transplantation because of the immaturity of newborn cells compared with adult cells.

To identify the benefit, the team collected UCB samples from full-term human deliveries (in Japan) with informed consent, and cultured the isolated cells with a combination of relevant growth/differentiation factors. UCB cells were transplanted into SCID mice carrying a gene modeling chronic liver injury. SCID mice are used to examine the effects and efficacy of transplants, because the mouse model does not reject engraftment (growth and development within the liver). In each model, the UCB cells were evaluated for engraftment and production of albumin (ALB, a protein indicating proper liver function) from three to 55 weeks after transplantation.



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