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New finding could lead to improved treatments for liver disease

Category: Liver Diseases

For individuals who have received liver panel test results indicating they have serious liver disease, the only long-term solution to their problem is a transplant. However, a team of Scottish researchers may have found a way to address the condition without requiring liver transplant.

Investigators from the University of Edinburgh found that it is possible to alter the expression of certain genes in early-stage liver cells. This causes the cells to develop into hepatocytes rather than bile duct cells.

In advanced stages of liver disease, doctors have found that a person's liver is choked with bile duct cells. This is thought to be one of the main causes of the health problems that accompany the condition. On the other hand, hepatocytes play an important role in detoxifying the liver. They are known to be very scarce in a person with liver disease.

"This research helps us know how to increase numbers of cells that are needed for healthy liver function and could pave the way for finding drugs that help liver repair," said lead researcher Luke Boulter. "Understanding the process in which cells in the liver are formed is key in looking at ways to repair damaged liver tissue."

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