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A living “library” of highly functional human liver cells has been grown in the lab by an international research group headed by Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, Rappaport laureate for young bio medical researcher 2014 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This achievement could advance a variety of discoveries and applications – from studying drug toxicity to creating bio-artificial liver support for patients awaiting transplants.
The team managed to develop a new approach to rapidly expand the number of human liver cells in the laboratory without losing their unique metabolic function, called by liver experts a “breakthrough.”
“Our technology will enable thousands of laboratories to study fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis, drug toxicity and liver cancer at a fraction of the current cost.” Nahmias noted that genetic modifications preclude using the hepatocytes for transplantation, “but we may have found the perfect cell source for the bio-artificial liver project.”
The liver cells represent varying genetic backgrounds for scientific, clinical and pharmaceutical development.