Researchers from University of Cambridge managed to convert skin cells from individuals with metabolic diseases into liver cells using stem cell technology.
In this research scientist took small skin samples (biopsies) form 7 patients – all of them with a range of inherited liver disease. Skin biopsies were also taken from 3 healthy individuals (control group). The skin sample cells were then reprogrammed back into stem cells, which were then used to generate liver cells which mimicked the broad range of liver diseases. This was the first time patient-specific liver diseases have been modeled using stem cells. They also created ‘healthy’ liver cells from the control group.
The authors hope that this discovery will eventually lead to tailored treatments for specific patients, and eventually cell-based therapy. Cell-based therapy means using the patient’s own cells, curing them, and then transplanting them back.