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Discovery of liver cell with stem cell-like properties could eliminate need for organ transplants

• by Rich Haridy

From hepatitis to cirrhosis there are over 100 different individual conditions that result in damage to the liver. Collectively, liver diseases have been dramatically rising in the United States over the past decade. Damage to liver cells is generally permanent, and if severe enough the only effective treatment is a complete liver transplant.

New research suggests an entirely new treatment for liver disease in the future could eliminate the need for liver transplants by essentially regenerating diseased or damaged liver cells. Utilizing a method called single-cell RNA sequencing the researchers closely studied human fetal and adult livers and discovered a specific type of cell, called a hepatobiliary hybrid progenitor cell (HHyP).

In utero, when a fetus is developing, HHyP cells act as precursors to the two main types of mature liver cells, hepatocytes and cholangiocytes.

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