A stem cell-based bio-artificial liver therapy developed by scientists in China has received approval for clinical trials.
Groundbreaking therapy system:
The Chinese research team, led by Dr. Gao Yi from the Translational Medicine Centre at Zhujiang Hospital of Southern Medical University, developed the bio-artificial liver system that uses a bioreactor to perform the essential functions of the liver, such as detoxification and protein synthesis, outside the body.
Deadly disease: Liver disease is responsible for 4% of all deaths, accounting for 2 million fatalities around the world each year. Liver failure is a critical stage of various liver diseases, with a high mortality rate of up to 70% due to the lack of effective treatments and a shortage of organ donors for transplants.
How the system works: The system employs a hollow fiber membrane to cultivate stem cells and vital substances, which are then introduced into the patient’s bloodstream, aiding tissue regeneration and mitigating liver damage caused by inflammation. Unlike traditional artificial liver systems, which rely on blood proteins and extrinsic plasma for filtration, this bio-artificial liver operates more like a real liver, with comprehensive functions.
Success in preliminary trials: According to Dr. Gao, clinical trials involving pigs and monkeys demonstrated remarkable results, increasing the survival rate from 17% (based on conventional treatments) to an impressive 87.5%. He emphasized the efficacy of this method and the stability of their quality control in production.
Breakthrough for liver therapy: If proven viable for human use, the researchers’ bio-artificial liver therapy could provide a life-saving treatment option for liver failure patients. Experts say it could potentially reduce the reliance on liver transplants, which come with significant challenges and limitations.