Each year 30,000 - 40,000 people die from liver disease and for those with acute liver failure, the only proven treatment has been liver transplantation.
Researchers at Mayo Clinic have developed an alternative to liver transplantation called the Spheroid Reservoir Bioartificial Liver (SRBAL). It is tested for healing and regeneration of the injured liver, improve outcomes and reduce mortality rates for patients with acute liver failure — without requiring a transplant.
Dr. Scott Nyberg, Principal investigator in the Artificial Liver and Liver Transplantation Laboratory at Mayo Clinic and liver transplant surgeon, developed the device. It uses healthy hepatocytes, or liver cells, from pigs to aid in digestion, removal of waste and toxins from the bloodstream.
"Acute liver failure claims the lives of over 30 percent of people who are diagnosed with this condition. Liver transplantation has been the go-to option for treating acute liver failure, but it also comes with many risks and isn't always an option, due to compatibility and availability of donor livers," said Dr. Nyberg.
In pigs, treatment with the Spheroid Reservoir Bioartificial Liver has been shown to reduce the severity of liver disease and improve survival. Future clinical studies are planned to assess the SRBAL as a less-invasive, long-term treatment option to liver transplantation.
Dr. Nyberg said, "Although the artificial liver is not yet cleared for use on humans, these findings show promise as an effective treatment option for diseases like liver cancer and hepatitis, which is becoming an increasingly common diagnosis."