Process may lead to better quality liver cells derived from clinical grade stem cells.
The difficulties of liver illness can stretch beyond just the impact on physical wellbeing, but can also become a significant cost burden on these patients.
However, researchers are currently working to develop new cost effective techniques for growing liver cells out of stem cells, for sufferers of liver damage.
In the past, the use of liver cells has shown some success in patient therapies, but donor organs are the only real source of cells.
Growing liver cells from stem cells show great promise, but the existing methods rely on animal products derived from tumors, which cannot be given to patients.
In a recent study, researchers developed a new process in which the cells use synthetic material of naturally occurring molecules called laminins instead of animal products, which was found to be much safer for humans.
The laminins act as a support, surrounding the cells and shaping the complex structures found in liver tissue. By growing stem cells on these laminins, it turned them into more efficient organized liver cells.
"The development of a defined process to deliver better quality liver cells from clinical grade stem cells is a significant advance,” said Dave Hay, MD, a scientists from the study. “The next step will be to assess their suitability for human use in the appropriate pre-clinical models."