The discovery made by the researchers of King’s College in relation to the possibility of generating tissues of the human liver is an important one. The study, published in Nature Communications, describes how scientists exploited the discovery concerning a type of cell called the hepatobiliary hybrid progenitor (hepatobiliary hybrid progenitor, HHyP), a cell that forms in the initial phase of development in the uterus.
Researchers have discovered that these cells can grow and become the two main types of adult liver cells, hepatocytes and cholangiocytes. These are, therefore, cells that have the typical properties of stem cells. The discovery could prove important in the context of regenerative medicine for the treatment of liver diseases, as revealed by Tamir Rashid of the Center for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine, one of the authors of the study.
This means that it may be possible to avoid liver transplantation, an operation that is necessary for several serious pathologies of this organ that can lead to death, such as cirrhosis. Now the goal of researchers is to understand the “recipe” to transform pluripotent stem cells into HHyP.
Once this difficult phase has passed, these cells could be transplanted into any patient. In a longer-term view, as Rashid himself points out, one could think of reprogramming HHyPs in the body using specific drugs to “repair sick livers without cell or organ transplants.”