Scientists turned stem cells into liver cells and successfully transplanted them to their baby for the first time

(ORDO NEWS) — Japanese doctors from the National Center for Child Health and Development conducted the first of its kind successful operation to transplant newborn liver cells obtained from embryonic stem cells.

According to the medical portal MedicalXpress , a child born in October 2019 suffered from a violation of the urea cycle, in which toxic ammonia accumulates in the liver. Doctors could not perform a liver transplant: the patient was too small for such an intervention. A transplant of this organ is usually done no earlier than the child reaches 13 months of age and if its weight is at least six kilograms.

But leaving the baby without medical help was also impossible. Doctors used supportive therapy, which would allow the child to survive until he can get a new liver.

On the sixth day of his life, a tiny patient was transplanted with about 190 million hepatocytes (liver cells) obtained from embryonic stem cells. Thanks to this, the child’s condition returned to normal, the concentration of ammonia in his body decreased – and he was able to wait for a full-fledged liver transplant operation, which took place in March this year. The patient’s father became the liver donor.

“The success of this test confirms the safety of [the applied method] in the world’s first clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells in patients with liver diseases,” say the staff of the institute where the therapy was conducted. The National Center for Child Health and Development is one of two organizations in Japan that has permission to work with embryonic stem cells to create new treatments.

The institution’s specialists though continue to test their method in order to further apply it as often as possible. The introduction of stem cell therapy into medical practice will save the lives of many children with a dysfunctional liver.


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