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January 18, 2016

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Chinese bioartifical liver set to save lives

Chinese scientists have developed a new bioartificial liver that they say will help people suffering from organ failure to live longer.

Designed to be attached outside the patient’s body, the device makes use of human liver cells, according to research findings published in the new issue of international science magazine Cell Research.

In its first clinical use last week, the device “saved a 61-year-old woman who was dying from acute liver failure,” said Professor Ding Yitao, a member of the research team.

The team comprised scientists from the Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences and doctors from Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital.

They are planning more clinical tests in Shanghai and its neighboring cities this year.

Bioartificial livers can help in the recovery of organ function and prolong people’s lives while they are waiting for a donor.

Chinese researchers have been using artificial livers since 1998, but earlier devices used liver cells from pigs, Ding said.

“The new device is based on cells taken from human skin, fat and other tissue and reprogrammed into [liver] cells,” he said.

“It is safer and less likely to cause a rejection reaction.”

Tests on laboratory animals found that pigs with acute liver failure had an average 80 percent survival rate after they were fitted with the new device, while untreated pigs died in about three days.

The researchers said they believe the artificial liver could have real value in China, which is home to 100 million people with hepatitis B and has a high incidence of liver cancer.


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