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Sep 29
Bioartificial livers come closer to reality
A new research has revealed that bio-artificial liver support system for patients with acute liver failure is under investigation to assess the safety and effectiveness.

Lead investigator Steven D. Colquhoun at Cedars-Sinai said that the quest for a device that can fill in for the function of the liver, at least temporarily, has been underway for decades and a bio-artificial liver (BAL), could potentially sustain patients with acute liver failure until their own livers self-repair.

The majority of the 49 sites currently involved in the investigation are in the United States, but studies are also underway in Europe and Australia and the research involves patients with liver disease caused by acute alcoholic hepatitis, a group with few therapeutic options.

In the bioartificial liver, which is designed by Vital Therapies Inc., blood is drawn from the patient via a central venous line, and then is filtered through a component system featuring four tubes, each about 1 foot long, which are embedded with liver cells.

The external organ support system is designed to perform critical functions of a normal liver, including protein synthesis and the processing and cleaning of a patient's blood, after which the filtered and treated blood is returned to the patient through the central line.

Colquhoun added that if successful, a bioartificial liver could not only allow time for a patient's own damaged organ to regenerate, but also promote that regeneration and in the case of chronic liver failure, it also potentially could support some patients through the long wait for a liver transplant.

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