20 February 2021

Bile ducts from organoids

Scientists for the first time restored a failed liver with organoids of the bile ducts

Svetlana Maslova, Hi-tech+

The therapy is based on taking healthy cells from a person, growing new bile ducts from them in a laboratory and then injecting them back into the body. The new bile ducts will allow the liver to function properly, reducing the risks of developing many serious diseases, including complete organ failure. Scientists plan to use the new method in clinical practice in the next few years. Moreover, both to restore the liver of a particular patient, and to improve the properties of donor organs.

The bile ducts work as a waste disposal system and the excretion of bile from the liver. Prolonged damage to the bile ducts leads to impaired liver function and in the most severe cases requires organ transplantation. The acute shortage of donor organs forces scientists to look for alternative treatment options that would preserve the damaged organ and gradually restore its function. This is the option presented by scientists from the UK.

Article by Sampaziotis et al. Cholangiocyte organoids can repair bile ducts after transplantation in the human liver published in the journal Science – VM.

To bring the new experiments closer to simulating the work of the human body, scientists used the system to maintain the function of donor organs outside the body and began working with human liver, which was initially considered unsuitable for transplantation. A press release from the University of Cambridge Lab-grown 'mini-bile ducts' used to repair human livers in regenerative medicine first tells about the experiments of scientists.

At the first stage, scientists grew bile duct organoids from gallbladder cells in a laboratory and then transplanted them to mice. It turned out that organoids could indeed repair damaged ducts.

Then the scientists applied a similar procedure to the donor liver. Organoids restored damaged ducts again and improved their function. This means that this cell therapy can be used in regenerative medicine to restore damaged liver, the scientists concluded.

"For the first time we were able to restore the human liver using cells grown in the laboratory," said Ludovic Vallier, the head of the work.

Now it is necessary to test the safety and confirm the effectiveness of this approach for humans, he added. As a source for growing new bile ducts, it is planned to use gallbladder cells from certain areas that are usually not damaged by the disease.

According to scientists, the new technology can be used in clinical practice in the next few years. It is planned to use it both to restore the patient's own liver and to improve the functions of the damaged donor liver, which can be transplanted in the future. Until now, not all patients waiting for a donor liver survive to surgery.

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