Getting an organ transplant at the verge of losing one’s life is an awesome news anyone could get. Each year millions of people find themselves on the donor waiting list around the world. A team of scientists at the University of Edinburgh has found a potential treatment for sudden liver failure. This promise to cut down the need for liver transplant.
The liver has the ability to regenerates itself after injury but this is not always the case. This abilities can be lost eventually in some injuries such as severe drug overdose. At this point one may need a liver transplant which sometimes are very difficult to come by. The team has been able to come up with a cancer drug that is able to restore the regenerative abilities of the liver. The work is at the early stage but further research into it would have a huge impact on patients.
Published in the Science Translational Medicine, the researchers started their journey by examining some livers to see why they lose their ability to regenerate after some injuries. They unravelled that some severe injuries triggered a process called senescence throughout the liver. The process is when the cells in the body becomes old and stop working properly. The team later realized that a chemical signal is responsible.
The researchers experimented on mice. The animals were given a drug overdose which would normally lead to liver failure and death but survived after they were given treatment. The group of researchers plan on testing the drug on patients soon in the hope that it could reduce the need for liver transplants.
The research group, which also includes the Beatson Institute in Glasgow, is also investigating whether senescence spreads beyond only the liver and could be part of the explanation for multiple organ failure.
Lindsay Keir, from the Wellcome Trust, said the study was “important”.
She added: “The research so far suggests that a medication could be used to treat this condition, avoiding the need for a liver transplant which is a major operation and reducing the demand on the limited supply of livers available for transplant.”
Source: BBC health news