Monday, Nov. 19, 2001

Artificial Liver

Inventor: Dr.Kenneth Matsumura, Alin Foundation

he liver is one of the most complex organs in the body—and one of the hardest to replace. It removes toxins from the blood and manufactures up to 1,000 proteins, metabolites and other vital substances. Now scientists trying to develop an artificial liver have found a way around these complexities: they let rabbit-liver cells do the work. The Bio-Artificial Liver developed by Dr. Kenneth Matsumura has a two-part chamber—patient's blood on one side, live rabbit cells suspended in a solution on the other—with a semipermeable membrane in between. As toxins from the blood pass through the membrane, the rabbit cells metabolize them and send the resulting proteins and other good things back to the other side. Because the rabbit cells never come into direct contact with human blood, the chances of infection or rejection are minimized. The device, now in its final stage of clinical trials, is meant primarily as a "bridge to an eventual liver transplant for patients with acute liver failure or for those who have rejected a previous transplant. In some cases, it may also give a damaged liver time to heal on its own, eliminating the need for a transplant altogether.

Availability: In 2002
To Learn More: