The research, looking to improve outcomes and possible future treatments, has been funded by an annual £35,000 grant from the Liver and Pancreatic Research and Development Charity and involves harvesting healthy liver stem cells from a patient to be cultured outside of the body. As stem cells regenerate themselves it could mean that liver tissue can be generated out of the body. Unlike with transplants, as the cells have been taken from the patient there is little chance of rejection and could also help those people waiting for liver transplants.
As part of the research different forms of chemotherapy will also be tested outside the body, in a low risk situation, to see what performs best. This could impact how other cancers are treated in the future.
The Liver and Pancreatic Research and Development cancer charity was set up by surgeon Mo Abu Hilal in 2012 and a number of patients with liver and pancreatic diseases. The charity aims to deliver improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the liver and pancreas. Mr. Hilal said: “This research into liver stem cells allows us a unique opportunity to improve the outcomes and survival for patients with liver disease. Once we establish our protocols in liver stem cells, we’ll be looking to extend our research into pancreatic stems cells too. This is our first major grant and we are delighted that it has been given to a very talented local team at Southampton University Hospital pictured below.
“The research group acknowledges that it has a long way to go to reach the point of using liver generated from stem cells in the management of patients with liver disease. However in the last two years the group has made good progress and is working hard towards the research aims.
“We are grateful to our many supporters who have so generously given of their time and money to make this research possible. If the research is successful it will give a massive boost to the treatment of this form of cancer. Unlike many other forms of cancer, detection and cure rates have not improved in the last 40 years.”
As the research progress we will keep you up to date with progress.