A patient suffering from an incurable liver disease will soon be able to benefit from revolutionary experimental therapy. The therapy developed by LyGenesis involves the introduction of liver cells into lymph nodes, where they reproduce and create a miniature liver. The latter can support the function of the patient ' s liver and prevent the development of liver failure in the patient.
The liver is the most important organ in an organism that performs dozens of vital functions. It filters blood and metabolisses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, while releasing the gall necessary for digestion. It not only removes toxins, but it is also a place where the body's energy is stored. It also has a powerful regenerative capacity that allows it to recover itself as it wears its functions.
However, poor lifestyle can disrupt its ability to regenerate and lead to incurable diseases, in which case liver transplantation should be considered; however, the limited availability of organs and the general state of health of patients limit this option; thus, LyGenesis from Pittsburgh has developed an alternative method of treatment: it is not a case of replacing a sick liver, but of growing in vivo.
It should be noted that it is not a matter of transplanting healthy liver cells directly into the patient ' s liver: in most cases patients suffer from cirrhosis and fibrosis, which gives little chance of successful transplantation; the idea is to create an additional location for the liver, in this case lymph node. LyGenesis uses the evolutionary function of lymph nodes, which are effective bioreactors for T-cells in the event of infection.
This approach was tested on animals and produced impressive results, and an injection of liver cells led to long-term animal survival in each case. ", said Dr. Hafford in an interview with MIT Technology Review.
LyGenesis is going to test its cell therapy for the first time in humans — Boston patients with the last stage of liver disease that is not eligible for liver transplantation; they will become the first volunteers in this clinical trial, in which 12 adults with similar health conditions will participate; they will be divided into three groups, each of which will receive different doses: 50 million, 150 million or 250 million liver cells, which will start with 1 to 5 additional mini-steams — and scientists estimate that the organoid can develop on average of 50 million cells.
Cells will be introduced directly into lymph nodes by means of ambulatory endoscopy, a procedure that significantly reduces costs and health risks compared to complete organ transplants; then all patients will receive immunosuppressive treatment in order to prevent minor liver rejection and will be monitored for a year to assess the effectiveness and safety of the treatment.
The test is expected to last less than two years; if the results are successful, LyGenesis scientists hope to achieve the same results with other organs, such as pancreatic iron, thimus and kidneys, offering solutions for many life-threatening diseases; this approach not only offers much less invasive treatment than transplantation, but also solves the problem of organ shortage.
It should be noted that transplantable cells can be obtained from donor organs deemed unfit for transplantation and that, in theory, anyone can provide enough cells to benefit at least 75 people.
It is possible that this therapy will soon be improved, as LyGenesis has recently announced cooperation with iTolerance, a company specializing in regenerative medicine, to develop an approach that eliminates the need for life-long immunosuppression.