In the coming weeks, a volunteer in Boston, Massachusetts, will be the first to trial a new treatment that could end up creating a second liver in their body. And that’s just the start—in the months that follow, other volunteers will test doses that could leave them with up to six livers in their bodies.
The company behind the treatment, LyGenesis, hopes to save people with devastating liver diseases who are not eligible for transplants. Their approach is to inject liver cells from a donor into the lymph nodes of sick recipients, which can give rise to entirely new miniature organs. These mini livers should help compensate for an existing diseased one. The approach appears to work in mice, pigs, and dogs. Now we’ll find out if it works in people.
If it does work, the treatment could be revolutionary. Donor organs are in short supply, and many of those donated can’t be used—for example, sometimes the tissue is too damaged. The new approach can make use of organs that would otherwise have been discarded, and the researchers reckon they can get treatments for around 75 people from a single donated organ.
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