Researchers create liver cells from skin cells

British scientists create liver cells from skin cells. Can this end of the organ shortage and open up treatment options?

Liver cells can't be grown in the lab. But it turns out, skin cells can be reprogrammed to grow as liver cells.

University of Cambridge researchers took patients' skin cells and used them to create liver cells to model a diverse range of inherited liver diseases.

How? The British scientists took seven diseased patients' skin cells and three health people's skin cells, turned them into stem cells, and grew them into liver cells.

Dr Ludovic Vallier of the MRC Centre for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, University of Cambridge, said in a statement: "Our work represents an important step towards delivering the clinical promises of stem cells."

Now, the researchers have an idea of what is happening in the diseased cell. It would also give the scientists a way to gauge if current therapies are working and pave the way for more personal treatment options.

Given the shortage of donor liver organs, this research could offer a tempting alternative.

However, the ultimate dream is the development of cell-based therapies. Such treatments could cure patients suffering from genetic conditions.

"However, more work remains to be done and our group is dedicated to achieving this ultimate goal by increasing the knowledge necessary for the development of new therapies," Vallier added.

Plus, this technique isn't limited to patients suffering from liver disease. Researchers believe it could be used to study other inherited disorders as well.

Image credit: Dr Tamir Rashid

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