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Cell-based liver therapies: past, present and future

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King's Authors


Liver transplantation represents the standard treatment for people with an end-stage liver disease and some liver-based metabolic disorders; however, shortage of liver donor tissues limits its availability. Furthermore, whole liver replacement eliminates the possibility of using native liver as a possible target for future gene therapy in case of liver-based metabolic defects. Cell therapy has emerged as a potential alternative, as cells can provide the hepatic functions and engraft in the liver parenchyma. Various options have been proposed, including human or other species hepatocytes, hepatocyte-like cells derived from stem cells or more futuristic alternatives, such as combination therapies with different cell types, organoids and cell-biomaterial combinations. In this review, we aim to give an overview of the cell therapies developed so far, highlighting preclinical and/or clinical achievements as well as the limitations that need to be overcome to make them fully effective and safe for clinical applications.This article is part of the theme issue 'Designer human tissue: coming to a lab near you'.

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