The liver is considered as an irreplaceable organ, but this view might not be the case in the near future. As of today, liver transplant remains as the only option for those who suffer from liver failure, but this will soon change as stem cell research is stepping in to solve this problem. Stem Cell therapy is a viable alternative treatment for those who want to give their liver a second chance. Doctors and researchers are working overtime to develop that cell therapy that could be infused so that patients no longer need a liver transplant.
Researchers have created a new material that could grow into mature liver cells, the new material is made up of nanomaterial-based hydrogel that has the ability to increase the growth of amniotic epithelial cells. Researchers are looking into this new advancement as this new liver cells could be a good source for tissue engineering and cell therapy. It can help patients with liver conditions heal naturally, it can help combat the effects of acute liver failure and liver cancer. Instead of resorting to a liver transplant, this could be a future way to heal the liver in a natural and non-invasive way.
Doctors and medical researchers from the Pharmacy Department of the National University of Singapore collaborated with Dan Yock Young from the National University Health System. Ho Han Kiat and Giorgia Pastorin teamed up to create the new hydrogel, that can imitate the stiffness level and nanoscale surface roughness that is found in healthy human liver.
The process involves the amniotic epithelial cells, this type of cell is like the amniotic fluid in pregnant women, they grow into what they call as the artificial matrix, and when stimulated develops into mature liver cells. This study was based with the study of Mesenchymal stem cells, this is another kind of stem cell that grows on a carbon nanotube-plated surface, they catalyze and transform the stem cells into muscle cells that lead to the stimulation of growth in living cells.
The main idea is to recreate this matrix, to create a softer one that can imitate the way healthy liver functions. The process yielded positive results, they found out that the process is able to acquire a significant number of cell characteristics. In a statement released by Ho, he said that “These cells demonstrated liver-specific functions in terms of expressing albumin and drug metabolizing capabilities. The goal now is to expand the characterization of the liver function of these cells and to scale up production so that this can potentially be a sustainable resource for clinical applications.
The research appears in the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.
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