Stem cell hope for liver patients
PATIENTS with liver failure have been successfully treated using their own bone marrow stem cells, it was reported yesterday.
Doctors extracted the stem cells from the patients' blood. They were then injected back into blood vessels connected to the liver.
Within two months, the liver function and general health of three of the five patients improved significantly, according to a report in the New Scientist magazine. The two patients who did not respond showed no ill-effects from the treatment.
The stem cells appear to home in on damaged areas of the liver and make repairs, although the process involved is not yet fully understood.
Nagy Habib, a surgeon at Imperial College, London, who led the trial, said of one of the patients, in his 60s: "At the outset, he had jaundice, vomited blood and had ascites - swelling caused by fluid around the liver."
Two months later the jaundice had disappeared, while levels of albumin - a marker of healthy liver function - rose to normal.
Mr Habib hopes to conduct a follow-up trial on 18 more liver patients.
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