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New Drug Triggers Liver Regeneration After Surgery

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 25 Aug 2014
Image: Liver cells regenerated in mice treated with a new drug (right) compared with a control group (center) after partial liver removal. Healthy liver cells are shown at left (Photo courtesy of Marshall et al, 2014, the Journal of Experimental Medicine).
Image: Liver cells regenerated in mice treated with a new drug (right) compared with a control group (center) after partial liver removal. Healthy liver cells are shown at left (Photo courtesy of Marshall et al, 2014, the Journal of Experimental Medicine).
Investigators have revealed that an innovative complement inhibitor decreases complement-mediated liver cell death, and actually stimulates postsurgery liver regrowth in mice.

Liver cancer often results in a loss of blood flow, and consequently, oxygen and nutrients to the liver tissue, resulting in deteriorating liver function. Although the diseased part of the liver can often be surgically removed, the sudden restoration of blood flow to the remaining liver tissue can trigger inflammation—a process called ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI). IRI occurs partly from the deposition of immune proteins called complement on the surface of liver cells, causing them to die and thereby impairing liver regeneration.

Complement inhibitors effectively suppress IRI, but the benefits of this approach come at a cost, because specific complement proteins are also required for liver tissue to regrow. According to scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC; Charleston, USA), the novel inhibitor suppressed the deposition of complement proteins and promoted the division of new liver cells. Even after removal of as much as 90% of the liver, treatment increased survival from 0% in untreated animals to an impressive 70%. The study’s findings were published August 11, 2014, in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The selectivity of this unique complement inhibitor, and its unforeseen ability to enhance liver regeneration, suggests that it might represent a new treatment strategy for a range of liver injuries in humans, according to the researchers.

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