Posted by: rcmetcalf | March 28, 2009

Parts of Liver Created using Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

Arlington, VA– Sept 19, 2008- Small sections of human liver have been created from umbilical cord stem cells, say scientists from Newcastle University, UK. The researchers say this technology could eventually be used to grow small livers that could be used for drug tests – doing away with the need for human volunteers to take risks. Earlier this year six volunteers became dangerously ill during a drug trial in the UK.

The scientists warned that it will be tens of years before we are anywhere near producing whole new livers for transplants. However, within the next 15 years, tiny livers could be produced and used for treating patients.

Team leaders, Dr. Nico Forraz and Prof. Colin McGuckin, have set up ConoStem, a company aimed at marketing their stem cell research results.

The researchers said they used a microgravity bioreactor, which creates a weightless environment, to grow liver tissue from stem cells.

Professor McGuckin said “We take the stem cells from the umbilical cord blood and make small mini-livers. We then give them to pharmaceutical companies and they can use them to test new drugs on. It could prevent the situation that happened earlier this year when those six patients had a massive reaction to the drugs they were testing.”

This technology, if it really can replace human and animal testing, will be welcomed by people who are against using animals for testing drugs. Umbilical cord stem cell research is also a much more attractive prospect for those who are against using embryonic stem cells for research.

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Cord Stem Cell Research
1414 Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22204


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