Using iPSC to create a “functional” human liver

Publié le : 9 July 2013
In the scientific journal Nature, Japanese researchers have published a study according to which they managed to create a “functional” human liver from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). To do so, "the researchers used a liver created in the laboratory in its early stage" and "implanted it in a mouse in which it transformed itself into a vascularised organ possessing the same properties as a human liver." The tissue that then grew was capable, notably, of "producing specific proteins such as albumin and of having a purification function." Thus, the survival chances of the mouse, "in which liver failure had been provoked," improved significantly.          
The principal author of the study, Prof. Takanori Takebe, says that it is "much too early to say if the technique could work in a human being." But he feels "optimistic". He pointed out: "We have as it were demonstrated the validity of our working principle," while adding that "clinical trials with humans will probably not occur before another decade.

We may remember that the technique of reprogramming iPSC cells was discovered by the Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka (Gènéthique press review on october 8th, 2012). The iPSC cells are adult cells "reprogrammed to rejuvenate and recover the properties of embryonic stem cells." Once they are reprogrammed, they recover a "new immaturity and the capacity to differentiate into all types of cells, depending on where they are located." They provide an alternative to research using embryonic stem cells (Gènéthique press review on November 12th, 2012).  

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