“Liver stem cell therapy for humans is coming,” said Markus Grompe, M.D., director of the Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute and co-author of a new Nature paper that describes how a team of researchers was able to successfully grow mouse liver stem cells in culture for the first time. The cells were then transplanted into a mouse model for liver disease, where they had a modest therapeutic effect.
In the study, researchers used a modified version of the Clever method, a process developed by Hans Clever, M.D., Ph.D., of the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands, which identified adult stem cells in the small intestine and colon by observing the expression of the cell marker Lgr5 and growth in response to a growth factor called Wnt. OHSU researchers applied their modified method and found that Wnt-induced Lgr5 expression not only marks stem cell production in the liver, but also identifies a class of stem cells that become active when the liver is damaged.
Read the full OHSU News release.
This study, “In vitro expansion of single Lgr5+ liver stem cells induced by Wnt-driven regeneration,” was funded by National Institutes of Health Grant R01DK051592.