The project will be continued under the supervision of Professors Abu Hilal and Salim Khakoo at the University of Southampton Hospital with LAPR&D continuing as the significant funder.
Professor Hilal explained that during the original project many of the objectives i.e. to grow and maintain functioning liver cells outside of the body and allow for early experimentation of new drugs on functioning livers with much reduced risks to patients have been met. Our researcher, Mogib Khedr, has conducted 127 proper experiments involving human samples
and 69 experiments involving cell lines and liver stem cells and successfully isolated stem cells and succeeded in making liver cells grow in laboratory. This research has been published in The Journal of Cell Proliferation and the full article can be found here https://doi.org/10.1111/cpr.12482. Good progress has also been made to identify a way to grow the cells in three dimensions and an ultrasound device has been validated for hepatic cell line.
In additional Liver stem cells have been grown in a clay gel material and can be encouraged to form mature liver cells.
However, further work is required to validate the model so that drugs can be tested. This will require an in depth characterisation of newly formed cells at the functional and the genetic level.
As an experimental study which has been started from scratch on a very novel topic with very little available data the achievements we had so far have been great and much above the average achievement levels in experimental studies. Funding for the next phase of this research will ensure that we have managed to put secure foundations to this project and produce strong data to enable us to progress to the use of liver stem cells in the clinical practice.
The project team have very clear ideas and believe that in the next 2 years (the term of this project extension) they will be able to capitalise on the work done so far so that further grant support can be attracted.
The approved extension will:
1. Use an ultrasound device to fabricate cancer cell micro-tissue which can be used for anti-cancer drug screening and/or drug toxicity testing.
2. Characterise the liver tissue formed from liver stem cells and validate this model in laboratory animals.
3. Test the applicability of use of ultrasound wave device in culture of liver stem cells and promoting the formation of mature liver tissues from them.
4. Testing the ability of implanted human stem cell (in clay gel) for compensation of liver functions in laboratory animals.
The project extension is funded by £40,450 of LAPR&D funding and will run until June 2020. Progress updates will be provided via the News section of our website.