Washington: Scientists have shed light on how the liver can heal itself by increasing the production of key cells required to treat damaged liver tissue.The study by researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, could help heal livers affected by diseases such as cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis.Scientists were able to unpick the process of how different cells in the liver are formed.When the liver is damaged it produces too many bile duct cells and not enough cells called hepatocytes, which the liver needs to repair damaged tissue.They found they could increase the number of hepatocyte cells – which detoxify the liver – by encouraging these cells to be produced instead of bile duct cells.Understanding how liver cells are formed could help to develop drugs to encourage the production of hepatocytes to repair liver tissue. This could eventually ease the pressure on waiting lists for liver transplants.“Liver disease is on the increase in the UK and is one of the top five killers. Increasing numbers of patients are in need of liver transplants, but the supply of donated organs is not keeping pace with the demand,” said Professor Stuart Forbes, Associate Director at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, who is a consultant hepatologist and was the academic leader of the study.
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