Newly Discovered Cells Restore Liver Damage in Mice Without Cancer Risk
News Aug 17, 2015
The researchers also found similar cells in humans.
When healthy liver cells are depleted by long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, the newly discovered cells, known as hybrid hepatocytes, generate new tissue more efficiently than normal liver cells. Importantly, they divide and grow without causing cancer, which tends to be a risk with rapid cell division.
“This is the first time anyone has shown how liver cells safely regenerate,” said William Suk, Ph.D., director of the Superfund Research Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH.
The researchers studied liver function in mice following long-term exposure to carbon tetrachloride, a chemical commonly associated with Superfund sites. The scientists were able to isolate the hybrid hepatocytes after observing how the tissue regenerated. They then exposed healthy mice to three known cancer-causing pathways and watched the hybrid hepatocytes closely. Liver cancer never originated from these cells.
The research team, led by Michael Karin, Ph.D., distinguished professor of pharmacology and pathology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, conducted the research at the UCSD Superfund Research Center.
“The entire program at UCSD is focused on the effects of toxicants on liver metabolism and functionality,” said Suk.
One of the goals of the Superfund Research Program is to better understand how toxic chemicals affect human health. The liver plays an essential role in this process by helping to remove toxicants from the body.
“Hybrid hepatocytes represent not only the most effective way to repair a diseased liver, but also the safest way to prevent fatal liver failure by cell transplantation,” noted Karin.
Retrained Enzyme is Biocatalysis MilestoneNews
TU Graz researchers managed for the first time ever to ‘retrain’ an enzyme to build ring-shaped molecular structures instead of performing its natural task of reducing double bonds. The work was published in Angewandte Chemie, and is relevant for the production of pharmaceuticals and plant protection products.
Laser Pulses and Fluorescence Enable Metabolite ViewingNews
In the search for new sources of drugs, biodegradables and biofuels scientists have come to realize that life itself could be the solution, using natural metabolites produced by bacteria to produce vital compounds like penicillin. Identifying which cells are most useful for this goal has proved a huge challenge, but a new system using fluorescence and lasers has enabled metabolite viewing in real time in algae cells.READ MORE