Stem cell therapy may replace liver transplants

Using mesenchymal stem cells taken from bone marrow, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have been able to spur the livers of rats to generate new tissue, raising the possibility that they can repair liver damage without resorting to a transplant--or buying more time for patients who would otherwise die waiting for a liver transplant. The liver is already known for its ability to regenerate, and lead scientist Dr Martin Yarmush says that they are easily able to gather enough bone marrow cells for the procedure.

The scientific team found that simply implanting the MSCs into the liver did not work. But they found that two other methods to deliver molecules secreted by the stem cells stopped cell death and lessened inflammation. In one group of rats, 71 percent treated with one of these processes survived, compared to 14 percent in the control group which survived a week.

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