Human Exceptionalism

Adult Stem Cells May Prevent Need for Liver Transplants

Here we go again: Adult stem cells moving forward faster than we could have hoped only a few years ago. This time it is liver disease: Rats were injected with their own bone marrow stem cells helping to repair their damaged livers. From the story in the Telegraph:

The liver is known to be one of the few major organs able to regenerate itself when parts have been removed.

The scientists found that they could encourage this natural tendency by inserting stem cells into the damaged livers of rats. They used Mesenchymal stem cells, which are found in the bone marrow.

Dr Martin Yarmush, who led the study published in the journal of the Public Library of Science, said: “We have identified a non-hepatic source of cells that can easily be expanded to the scale required for clinical application.”

According to the story, scientists believe the treatment will one day keep people going long enough to survive long waiting lists for liver transplants, perhaps even obviate the need for a new organ altogether. Human trials should be coming soon. Let’s hope it works as well in humans as it has in rats.