Over 500 processes are performed by the liver, an essential organ. The liver, which is the largest internal organ in the body, is important for digestion, energy storage, detoxification, and infection prevention. Every year, liver diseases claim the lives of approximately 2 million individuals, posing a serious threat to global health.

Liver transplantation is the only known therapeutic option for those with severe and advanced liver failure. Sadly, only 10% of patients in need of liver transplants will obtain one, and many people pass away while waiting for a matched donor. Those who do not have exposure to a liver transplant may be able to receive alternative and cutting-edge therapy owing to stem cell research.

The liver becomes inflamed in the initial stages of liver disease as the body works to restore the infection or injury. If the condition is identified and treated effectively, the liver can regenerate at this point. Without treatment, the inflamed liver may start to produce scar tissue, which will potentially replace healthy liver tissue and this is called liver fibrosis. Scar tissue (or fibrous tissue) accumulation limits blood flow and impairs liver function. Over time, fibrotic livers can still recover.

The rapid decline in liver function and extensive liver cell death are symptoms of acute liver disease. Chronic liver disease is more prevalent when various variables, including obesity, alcohol consumption, viral infections, or immunological disorders, can lead to persistent liver scarring. Liver disease, both acute and chronic, can be fatal.

Cirrhosis, a deadly condition that can result in liver cancer or liver failure, is the chronic scarring of the liver brought on by long-term injury. When a liver reaches hepatic failure, all or nearly all of its functions are gone, and the patient requires emergency medical care. There are currently few treatment options available.

Regenaration of Liver
Our only organ that can heal after an injury is the liver. The hepatocyte, the primary cell type of the liver, is partly responsible for this regeneration. The liver's detoxification processes, the synthesis of proteins and lipids, and the metabolism of carbohydrates all depend on hepatocytes. Hepatocytes may often divide to replace dead tissue and even repair certain liver damage. Hepatic biliary cells, a different class of cells renowned for excreting bile, can also direct liver repair. Hepatocyte or biliary cell injury in the course of liver disease lowers the liver's capacity to heal. Hepatic progenitor cells, which are specialised cells, are expected to take over regeneration in times of severe injury.

The liver's capacity to heal itself may be hampered by the development of scar tissue. Research continues to be conducted to find out if adult livers contain stem cells and, if so, what kind they are and how they replace the liver.
Current Treatment Approaches for Liver Diseases
The characteristics of the illness state and causation determine whether the liver disease can now be treated or not. According to the underlying issue, lifestyle changes like cutting back on alcohol or losing weight can help various aspects of liver function. Several metabolic liver illnesses can be managed by lowering particular substances in the body, such as iron or copper, while other liver ailments can be treated with liver medication or surgery.

However, severe or advanced cases of chronic liver disease may eventually necessitate a liver transplant. A healthy liver from a deceased individual or a portion of a healthy living donor is used to substitute the diseased liver during a liver transplant.

The dangers of a liver transplant include rejection of the organ, adverse immunosuppressive effects, infection, bleeding, clotting, and failure of the donor liver, among others. The transplanted liver may also develop liver disease again.

However, there are significantly more people queuing for liver transplants than there are donors. While they are awaiting a liver transplant, many patients may pass away. To aid the billions of individuals suffering from the liver disease worldwide, new medicines are required.

How Does Stem Cell Help in Understanding Liver Diseases?
Stem cells are being used by scientists to learn more about liver disease, find potential new medications to treat it, and possibly even as a source of replacement cells. Stem cell-based therapies can treat a variety of liver conditions, including chronic liver disease, acute liver failure, and metabolic liver diseases.

Pluripotent stem cells are being studied in the lab by researchers who are studying liver disease and its remedies. Induced pluripotent stem cells, also known as iPS cells, are cells that can be "induced" to transform into cells that resemble embryonic cells from skin or blood. Then, any form of cell in the body can be produced from these cells.

To produce hepatocytes grown from stem cells from iPS cells, researchers have discovered a way to imitate different stages of embryonic development. These stem cell-derived cells have been demonstrated to function similarly to typical liver cells in terms of food metabolism, energy storage, and toxin elimination. These iPS cells are capable of unrestricted growth in the laboratory and may be used to produce significant quantities of hepatocytes with potential clinical applications.

Development of Cell-Based Approaches
Scientists envision a day when patients will receive stem cell-derived hepatocyte transplants, enabling the new hepatocytes to take up the liver's typical tasks. This strategy is currently facing several challenges. The liver of the patient must be able to effectively connect to and integrate the transplanted cells, however, attachment rates are currently rather low. Even though clinical trials are still being conducted, more research is required to determine the safety and efficacy of these cell-based liver disease treatments.

Author's Bio: 

Advancells is a research-oriented company based in India providing cutting-edge stem cell therapy solutions to patients dealing with various chronic conditions and lifestyle disorders.