Melbourne researchers are developing groundbreaking procedure

Researchers in Melbourne are developing a groundbreaking new way to grow mini-livers on patients’ legs that can be transplanted to replace their own diseased organs.

The research, led by St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, involves collecting stem cells from patients and using them to grow a mini-liver in a laboratory dish.

The method could save many of the 7,000 Australians who die of chronic liver disease each year.

Researcher at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, Dr. Kiryu Yap, says that the “real innovation here is the ability to be able to generate large amounts of liver tissue associated with blood vessels in the body”.

“Basically, we do liver transplant surgery, but we don’t use donor tissue, we actually use stem cell tissue, so your own liver,” he said.

Human liver tissue has been successfully grown in the groin of mice and rats.

Laboratory tests are underway to assess how efficient and safe the innovative process is.

“Once we get these results, we’ll look at starting clinical trials, but it’s still a long way off, it’s likely to be within 10 to 15 years,” said Dr. Yap.

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