Biomanufactured liver grafts implanted in animals show indications of functioning like a normal donor liver, Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered. This early research in the October 14 edition of Nature Biomedical Engineering finds that a tissue-engineered liver graft implanted in pigs can effectively replace a diseased liver. The research could accelerate development of bioengineered organs as a viable alternative to donor organs.

Scott Nyberg, M.D., Ph.D.

“Our research discovered that liver cells in the graft show signs of regeneration like a normal liver. The endothelial cells that line blood vessels change their appearance and become liver-like so no anti-coagulation is needed to prevent clotting of the graft,” says Scott Nyberg, M.D., Ph.D., senior author on the paper. “This discovery gives hope that solutions to the organ shortage are on the horizon.”

More than four million American suffer from chronic end stage liver disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The only treatment for those people is a liver transplant. However there is an acute shortage of donor livers, and many patients die waiting for a transplant.

Mayo Clinic’s research in pigs is preliminary, and is not yet ready for human studies. The research is a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and Miromatrix Medical which together are advancing the development of bioengineered organs. Early talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have taken place and defined steps are required before this research can be tested in human clinical trials.