Skin cells transform to liver cells

(Stem Cells News image)

In a fresh demonstration of science’s newfound ability to alter the basic units of human life, researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin have turned the cells in human skin into those in the liver, work that opens new avenues for treating diseases of the liver without relying on organ transplants.

Professor and stem cell researcher Stephen A. Duncan and other scientists in his lab reported this week in the journal Hepatology that they have created reprogrammed mouse liver cells that were identical to those grown in nature and were able to integrate and grow alongside those in a mouse liver.

Duncan and his fellow researchers also showed that human liver cells made through reprogramming are virtually the same as those grown from embryonic stem cells, though both appear to differ from adult liver cells in one respect. Those grown with reprogrammed or embryonic stem cells in the lab had fewer of the enzymes that fulfill the liver’s function of filtering out toxins than adult liver cells that have developed in the body.


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