Researchers discovered an unusual form of tissue regeneration could potentially reduce the need for organ transplants.
Scientists from Cincinnati Children’s and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) discovered a new form of tissue regeneration for treatment of a rare liver disease called Alagille syndrome, which requires organ transplant. Organ transplant is generally expensive and difficult-to-obtain.
They conducted an experiment on mice and found these results of treatment for human disease. If this method is successfully carried out on humans, it would even prevent the need for an alternative method for repairing tissue damage by manipulating stem cells to grow organs from scratch in a lab dish.
“We have known for a long time that the liver has more ability to regenerate than other organs. Only recently have we had the tools to study this ability in depth. Now we have a high-level understanding,” said Stacey Huppert, co-author of the paper.
“Our study shows that the form and function of hepatocytes — the cell type that provides most of the liver’s functions — are remarkably flexible. This flexibility provides an opportunity for therapy for a large group of liver diseases,” says Holger, senior co-author of the study.
They found that when a disease or injury causes a shortage in one critical type of liver cell, the organ can instruct another type of liver cell to change identities to provide replacement supplies.