The human liver metabolises everything that enters the body. The main cell type in the liver responsible for this diverse function is the hepatocyte. The goal of this research is to engineer and manufacture the large amounts of hepatocytes required for the treatment of human liver disease. The hepatocyte technology developed in Edinburgh is robust, scalable and ready to move toward the clinic.
The team is interested in developing its technology as an extra-corporeal device, a strategy which has been shown clinically to support human liver function. While bio-artificial liver devices have been used successfully in the past, their widespread acceptance was limited due to the incorporation of animal products. Its future interest is therefore to generate the quantity of hepatocytes required to ‘fuel’ a bio-artificial liver device. The humanised bio-artificial liver will then be evaluated in the correct clinical context to determine its value in treating human liver disease. The research has three aims: