A group of scientists have claimed to have created functional liver cells from human embryonic and genetic engineered stem cells.
Human liver cells, called hepatocytes, are in short supply as they can only be isolated from donated organs.
Scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported that they have produced large amounts of functional liver cells, and Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, study’s senior author, added that this was quite a revolution for pharmaceutical drug discovery.
The pharmaceutical companies spend USD 1 billion each year on liver cells alone, and producing an unlimited supply of functional liver cells from human pluripotent stem cells can change that he added.
Nahmias’s team further discovered that the bacteria populating the infant gut moments after birth produced vitamin K2 and bile acids that activated the fetal liver’s dormant drug metabolism program.
It demonstrated that liver cells are produced from either embryonic stem cells or genetically engineered skin cells and could detect the toxic effect of over a dozen drugs with greater than 97 percent accuracy.
The study is published in the journal Hepatology.