In the last three months, we have explored the liver cell growth process at gene level to determine if there are genes associated with pancreatic cancer. Liver cells were taken from liver tissue obtained from patients undergoing liver surgery. Since our exciting start, we have recruited 26 patients and 24 liver specimens were processed in the last three months.
The effects of the chosen growth factors on human liver cells have been studied. Changes to genes related to growth and proliferation were tested. Exposure of liver cells to certain agents, such as hormones, causes generation of certain nucleic acids (RNA) which stimulate the production of protein and cell growth which will assist our efforts to grow a liver outside of the body successfully. RNA was extracted from the cells and alteration of the gene structure was tested using different laboratory methods to monitor the increase in multiplication of nucleic material (DNA). We found that factors under study had a positive effect on genes involved in growth and proliferation processes of liver cells.
The impact of these growth factors on the functionality of liver cells was a concern in our study. The ability of liver cells to produce or break down certain products had been investigated using various experimental procedures. We found the liver cell functions such as production of albumin are variably affected by those growth factors. The use of these factors on liver cells was found to be safe with no toxic effects.
In separate experiments, work is trying to isolate human liver stem cells. We have made good progress in understanding the liver stem cell environment and we are able to identify factors that are essential for growth and maintenance of liver stem cell in a culture dish.
In November 2015, Mr Abu Hilal was invited to present some of our results at the international scientific society conference in Jordan.
Over the next three months, the work will focus on:
- Mechanisms that cause the variability in response to growth improving agents.
- Optimization of the liver stem cultural model using the development knowledge of 2D and 3D techniques.
- Identification and characterisation of various stem cell types.
- In bioengineering experiment, we plan to study how liver cells behave and survive under the effect of ultrasonic waves