Friday, October 9, 2009

Stem Cell Techniques Advance Liver Research

UC San Diego researchers are using stem cell technologies in order to do the basic research necessary to develop treatments for liver fibrosis—which according to information on PubMed is “the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins including collagen that occurs in most types of chronic liver diseases.”

Put another way, liver fibrosis is the formation of scar tissue in response to liver damage. Hepatic stellate cells--the major cell type involved in liver fibrosis--are responsible for secreting collagen that produces a fibrous scar, which can lead to cirrhosis.

The high-throughput cellular array technology developed by UCSD researchers systematically assesses and probes the complex relationships between hepatic stellate cells and components of their microenvironment. The scientists found that certain proteins are critical in regulating activation of hepatic stellate cells and that the proteins influence one another’s actions on the cells. The findings were published in a paper entitled “Investigating the role of the extracellular environment in modulating hepatic stellate cell biology with array combinatorial microenvironments” in the September 2009 issue of Integrative Biology. Authors: David A. Brafman, Samuele de Minicis, Ekihiro Seki, Kevan D. Shah, Dayu Teng, David Brenner , Karl Willert and Shu Chien.
Read more here:

This interdisciplinary research project involved both Dr. Shu Chien, Jacobs School bioengineering professor and Director of the Institute of Engineering Medicine at UCSD; and Dr. David Brenner, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and the Dean of the UCSD School of Medicine.

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