The liver is a large, glandular organ of the body that offers a wide range of functions, including protein synthesis, detoxification, digestion and metabolism in the human body. A variety of injuries and disease processes to the liver severely hamper the body's ability to perform at optimal levels. Some of the most common disease processes that affect liver function include:
Common pediatric or childhood diseases of the liver include:
The liver is also the only organ capable of regenerating lost tissues, and even a small portion of liver can eventually regenerate into a entire liver. Because of this ability, the liver is uniquely receptive to a variety of stem cell treatments and technologies.
Stem Cell Research Affecting Liver Diseases
Since the early 1990s, EmCell, a Ukrainian stem cell research facility has offered suspended fetal stem cells in clinical practice and implantation of stem cells for treatment of liver cirrhosis. Fetal stem cells are then administered through IV (intravenous) injection through endoscopic or laparoscopic implantation in patients diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver or chronic hepatitis.
This technology utilizes a combination of hematopoietic stem cells and embryonic liver cells (commonly taken from leftover embryonic cells from fertility treatment patients or from previously aborted fetuses) to help restore function and health in damaged liver tissues.
Another common approach to treating liver disease processes is through adult liver stem cells, due to their ability to regenerate injured liver tissues. The potential for such stem cell replacement therapies is under study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and focuses on individuals whose livers can no longer repair their own tissues.
Such treatments and technologies may help reduce the number of individuals around the world waiting for liver transplants. Researchers throughout the globe are studying the ability of duel- potential stem cells that have been isolated from healthy liver cells and express a certain protein necessary for regeneration. Currently, the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Penn Center for Digestive Diseases Center are continuing research in this area.
In other areas of research, chronic liver disease treated through CD34+ stem/progenitor cell populations injected into the blood has shown positive and promising results. Stem cell research continues in the hope of understanding the pathogenesis of liver disease and the production of stem cells derived from embryonic stem cells and bone marrow to produce liver-like cells. Billions of dollars of research monies have been granted to stem cell research facilities around the globe, from California to Pennsylvania, the Ukraine, Japan, Germany and France.
Cost of Liver Stem Cell Therapies
The cost of therapies is determined according to geographic location of treatment facilities as well as the injury, illness or disease being treated.
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Stem Cell Therapy Abroad