Our Liver Program

is focused on the development of our hLEC human liver engrafting cells as a treatment for a broad range of liver diseases.

The Challenge of Liver Disease

Liver disease is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US1, and an enormous public healthcare burden. Today, whole organ transplantation is the only definitive treatment for restoring liver function in patients with severe liver disease.

An estimated 25 million people in the US2, and millions more worldwide, are afflicted with liver-related disease. Each year 45,000 Americans die from liver-associated disorders3. In many of these diseases, such as inborn errors of metabolism, acute liver failure and cirrhosis, the liver is either missing an essential function or loses function as liver cells are damaged or destroyed by the disease process.

Although a viable treatment modality, only a few thousand liver transplants can be accomplished each year due to the limited supply of suitable organs and the very invasive nature of the procedure. For this reason, organ transplants are generally reserved for patients in the very late stages of the disease who are sick enough to warrant such drastic intervention, yet healthy enough to survive the transplant operation. The medical team performing the transplant must be highly skilled and available for an around-the-clock surgical procedure, and then costly hospitalization follows that can last for months and includes critical care. The burden of an organ transplant on the patient, family, physicians, healthcare workers and the system are staggering – physically, emotionally and financially.

The Promise of Cell Therapy

Cell-based therapy using liver stem or progenitor cells has the potential to offer a better alternative for treating a broad range of liver diseases. A cell-based therapeutic could provide or support liver function in patients with liver disease and would have numerous advantages over whole organ transplantation. Such a product could potentially:

  • Expand the number of patients who could be treated,
  • Enable treatment in earlier stages of disease, and
  • Be less invasive and better tolerated.

Continue learning more about our Liver Program progress…

  1. American Liver Foundation
  2. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases
  3. Kim WR, et al., Burden of Liver Disease in the United States: Summary of Workshop. Hepatology July 2002
  4. Eileen K. McCluskey, A ‘Surgeon of the Soul’, The Harvard University Gazette, March 25, 1999
Transplanting cells to restore function, rather than whole organs, is the next logical progression in the treatment of liver disease.
As an organ transplant surgeon, I had the privilege to aid in the restoration of life and health. I was continually reminded, however, that many patients cannot receive a new organ in time, and many are too ill to tolerate a transplant. One of my earliest cases, similar to so many that followed, persists in my mind…
A baby with a metabolic enzyme defect who had to undergo a highly invasive, risky operation to remove and replace her liver, then endure a very prolonged ICU and hospital stay. We saved her life. But I believe that we can and will come up with a better way to treat our patients — through cell therapy.
Dr. Joseph E. Murray, the Nobel Laureate who performed the first successful kidney transplant, said “Most of our work [as surgeons] is restoration of function”.4 His pioneering work in organ and tissue transplantation heralds what many believe is the next logical step for surgery – cell transplantation. Metabolic disorders and diseases of the liver seem an obvious choice for putting that next step into practice by transplanting cells instead of replacing whole organs… We could intervene earlier and restore function less invasively. As my mentors moved the field of organ transplant forward, I know that my generation now needs to advance cell therapy. Translating this type of breakthrough concept into new technology that can be integrated into medical practice happens in industry. I joined StemCells, Inc. because of its mission and capacity to do just that.”

X

Hide story

Transplanting cells to restore function, rather than whole organs, is the next logical progression in the treatment of liver disease.
As an organ transplant surgeon, I had the privilege to aid in the restoration of life and health. I was continually reminded, however, that many patients cannot receive a new organ in time, and many are too ill to tolerate a transplant. One of my earliest cases, similar to so many that followed, persists in my mind. Read the full story…

Maria Millan, MD, FACS
Vice President, Head of Liver Program

hLEC
(human liver engrafting cells)

Learn more…

Please Note!

You are about to open a web page or document that is hosted by a third party and is not maintained by StemCells, Inc. and to which our Privacy Policy does not apply.

This link is provided to you for convenience and does not serve as an endorsement by StemCells, Inc. of any information or contacts that you may find on this third party site.

Cancel | Continue

X

Please Note!

You are about to open a web page or document that is hosted by a third party and is not maintained by StemCells, Inc. and to which our Privacy Policy does not apply.

This link is provided to you for convenience and does not serve as an endorsement by StemCells, Inc. of any information or contacts that you may find on this third party site.

Cancel | Continue

X

Please Note!

You are about to open a web page or document that is hosted by a third party and is not maintained by StemCells, Inc. and to which our Privacy Policy does not apply.

This link is provided to you for convenience and does not serve as an endorsement by StemCells, Inc. of any information or contacts that you may find on this third party site.

Cancel | Continue

X

Please Note!

You are about to open a web page or document that is hosted by a third party and is not maintained by StemCells, Inc. and to which our Privacy Policy does not apply.

This link is provided to you for convenience and does not serve as an endorsement by StemCells, Inc. of any information or contacts that you may find on this third party site.

Cancel | Continue

X