Foetal cure

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

BY TREATING acute liver failure through hepatocyte transplantation (transplantation of the liver cells of a foetus), a team of doctors in Hyderabad claimed a major breakthrough. The team headed by C M Habeebullah, prominent gastroenterologist and liver expert, has developed a new technique to treat people suffering from chronic and acute liver failure. The project - the first of its kind in the country - involved 14 terminally ill people out of whom six patients survived. Habeebullah said that although the rate of survival was 45 per cent, more effort should be put into the project to make it successful.

In the new technique, liver cells of a 13-36 weeks-old foetus are used. These cells can function like a full-fledged liver and help in reviving a failed liver. Studies say that 85 per cent of metabolic activity is retained in these cells for a long duration. With this knowledge, the doctors are isolating, purifying and storing the liver cells at the Centre for Liver Diseases in Hyderabad.

However, there is one problem. As many as 40 foetuses are required to treat one patient and it is extremely difficult to get hold of so many because of the growing number of liver patients in the country, said the doctors.

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