Doctors in Japan have successfully transplanted liver cells derived from embryonic stem cells in a newborn suffering from a disease of the liver, a first in the world.
May 21, 2020 7h46
Updated at 22: 14
Japan: a baby treated by stem cells for liver disease, first in the world
TOKYO — doctors in Japan have successfully transplanted liver cells derived from embryonic stem cells in a newborn suffering from a liver disease, a world first that could pave the way for new options in pediatric medicine.
Last October, the infant suffered from a congenital disorder of the urea cycle, preventing the liver to degrade the ammonia, a constituent toxic normally converted into urea to be excreted through the urine.
But at the age of six days, it was too small to undergo a liver transplant, a surgical procedure heavy which is not recommended before a child reaches a weight of at least six kilograms, around three to five months.
The doctors of the national Center for health and child development (NCCHD) in Tokyo have decided to opt for a therapy of transition, until the baby has grown enough to receive a liver transplant classical.
They have, therefore, injected into the blood vessels of the liver 190 million liver cells healthy made from embryonic stem cells (ESCS) human.
After this treatment, “an increase in the concentration of ammonia in the blood has not been ascertained,” in the baby, which could benefit a few months later of a transplant of a part of the liver of his father. He was able to get out of the hospital six months after his birth.
It is a “success” for the “first clinical trial in the world using CSE for a patient suffering from a disease of the liver”, was welcomed by the NCCHD in a press release published Thursday.
The human embryonic stem cells are harvested from eggs fertilized and developed into “blastula”, a cluster of about 100 cells, one of the very early stages of the human life.
This promising area of therapeutic research, however, raises an ethical dilemma, since the blastulas are destroyed in the process of extracting embryonic stem cells.
The NCCHD is one of only two institutions in Japan authorized to produce ESCS for therapeutic research.
It works with eggs is fertilized, the use of which has been authorized by the patients who had already completed treatment for their fertility, explained by the NCCHD.