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A functional human liver has been generated from adult stem and progenitor cells by researchers led by a team from the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ The Saban Research Institute.

In a study published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, the researchers detailed that the generated liver contained normal structural components like blood vessels, bile ducts and hepatocytes, or proliferative liver cells.

Alternative treatment options have been developed but there remain significant limitations, like perfusion protocols wasting many cells and the need for a donor liver in conventional liver cell transplants. Additionally, these liver cell transplants take months to complete and most recipients would still require a liver organ transplant in the end.

Human-induced pluripotent stem cells have also been used in transplants but so far they have not been observed to develop into hepatocytes.

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