Mini-liver obtained from cord blood cells

Publié le 31 Oct, 2006

An exceptional progress


Pr McGuckin’s and Dr Forraz’s team (University of Newcastle) achieved to create a model of tiny liver from stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood. Umbilical cord blood is taken after the delivery without danger neither for the mother nor for the child. Scientists have placed these cord blood stem cells taken from newborn babies in a bioreactor designed by Nasa. The reproduced effects of weightlessness enabled cells to develop more rapidly and to transform with growth factors into 3D liver tissues. Thus, this team would be the first to made tissues of non-negligible size (few millimetres) in 3D from umbilical cord blood stem cells.


Significant impacts


According to specialists, this discovery could have significant impact on pharmaceutical industry because within two years the “mini-livers” could be used for drug trials, offering an appropriate tool to better forecast toxically side effects of a developing drug, thus reducing animal experiments. In the medium term, this technology could evolve to use hepatic tissues to create “artificial livers” and treat patients waiting for hepatic graft or for a regeneration of their liver; within 15 years, we could envisage to transplant “hepatic fragments” to compensate some liver impairments.

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