Progenitor cells eyed for liver transplants

NEW YORK Tue Sep 2, 2008 10:20pm BST

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - German researchers report they have isolated progenitor cells, the stage above stem cells, from human liver specimens. When transplanted into mice, the cells show signs of "taking" and becoming new liver cells.

Dr. Thomas S. Weiss of the University of Regensburg Hospital and colleagues identified the progenitor cells by surface "markers," which indicated that they were capable of becoming liver cell or cells of the bile duct.

As reported in the medical journal Gut, the investigators demonstrated the potential ability of the cells to become these different types in lab dish experiments.

Transplantation of the cells into the livers of immune-suppressed mice resulted in "engraftment," and tests showed the cells functioned as they should.

Weiss' team concludes that it's possible to isolate liver progenitor cells, and that they "might be a potential candidate for cell treatment in liver diseases."

SOURCE: Gut, August 2008.

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