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Liver Failure

The liver is connected to virtually every critical process of the body and is vital for maintaining overall health. However, it is estimated by the Canadian Liver Foundation that one in 10 Canadians, or more than three million people, has some form of liver disease. The most common forms are viral hepatitis, fatty liver disease and liver cancer, all of which can lead to death.

Currently available treatments for liver failure are inadequate and the death rate from liver-related illnesses is on the rise. At the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine in Montreal, Dr. Massimiliano Paganelli is seeking better ways to treat liver failure using a novel stem cell therapy. His project, supported in part by SCN, is geared towards developing a stem cell-based product to replace liver functions in both children and adults with liver failure. Dr. Paganelli and his team use stem cells to create thousands of mini-livers called organoids, which work together within a special biomaterial to form a tissue that performs like a human liver. This “encapsulated liver tissue” is ten to a thousand times more effective than any other system ever developed. It has the potential to be transplanted through minimally invasive surgery into patients with liver failure, and to restore liver functions without the risk of rejection or the need for immunosuppression. Dr. Paganelli is a dedicated pediatric clinician whose research has the potential to benefit people of all ages.

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