Liver disease affects millions of people in the UK and is the 5th most common cause of death. The only curative option for end-stage liver disease is a liver transplantation, which carries with it the burden of life-long immunosuppression and an increased risk of infection, cancer, as well as renal and cardiovascular disease. The 36-month MRC-funded project will focus on the development of a novel transplantable environment to deliver liver organoid therapy to the clinic as an alternative to organ transplantation. As part of a UKRMP consortium, the work involves collaborators at other world leading institutions: University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, and King’s College London.
Proof of concept has shown that human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) can form primitive liver organoids, however, the in vitro-derived spheroids lack a functional biliary system and require transformative steps before they can be clinically useful. The overarching aim of the project is the manufacture of a 3D scaffold to facilitate scalable liver tissue formation in vitro anticipated to improve organoid stability and function. The final device will include a physiologically relevant niche environment housed in a fully transplantable device.