Great news for everyone who loves to drink but still worries about the liver. Liver failure soon may well be a thing of the past, just like liver transplants and the frustrating times of waiting and hoping for a new organ. Dutch scientists have made a revolutionary breakthrough in stem cell research. An injection of cultured cells could provide a patient with a functioning new liver. Research showed that it’s possible to create a new liver from a single stem cell in just 4 months.
The research was performed by the Hubrecht Institute and the Universitair Medisch Centrum in Utrecht. For the last 15 years scientists were silently working on this project. The main problem all this time was to keep diseased human tissue alive in a laboratory, not to mention increasing it. But professor doctor Hans Clevers, the research leader, now claims his team developed a culture system for both human liver stem cells and healthy stem cells extracted from cancer tissue from the pancreas. They present their findings this week in the American professional journal Cell. However yesterday (Wednesday Januari 21st) they already gave a sneak preview in the popular Dutch talkshow De Wereld Draait Door.
About the research that has been going on for the last 15 years Clevers, who is also president of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences, said: “Tissues decay and break down. The human liver, however, has the feature that it can repair itself with its own stem cells. This organ years ago gave us the idea to see if we could multiply these cells in order to let them repair livers or completely leave one ‘rebuild’. That is a success. All analyzes show that the cultured tissue genetically do not differ from healthy liver tissue and is also very stable,”
Clevers also said that he hopes to use the same principle in the distant future to fix diseased lungs, kidneys, hearts and other organs. “In the future we will be able to replace every part of the human body, like it was a car. So it would be possible for humans to live to see 150 years old. There is just one organ that can not be replaced: the brain. That holds all your memories, all your emotions, all your experiences. But other than that in the distant future we’ll be able to replace every part of the body with stem cells.”
Good thing Clevers and his team started with the most important organ. So on behalf of all people who love to test their livers on a regular basis: thanks a lot guys, cheers!