Liver disease and cancer

The field of liver disease is wide and varied. It encompasses acute liver failure, fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancers such as cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer).

Chronic liver disease is the 5th largest cause of death in the UK, and is common worldwide. Chronic damage leads to scarring and eventually cirrhosis which can lead to liver failure and ultimately liver cancer.

The liver is a highly regenerative organ, which can regrow even after 70% of its volume has been removed. Damage to the liver occurs from many causes including genetic diseases, viral infections, immune mediated diseases, obesity, excessive alcohol intake and drug overdoses. If the damage is too severe then liver failure can occur.

Although liver transplantation is a cure for severe liver disease there are insufficient numbers of suitable organs. Furthermore liver transplantation results in the need for lifelong immunosuppression. Understanding and improving how the liver regenerates, and developing alternatives to liver transplantation is therefore a priority of our research at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine.


Work at CRM

Prof Stuart Forbes research group

Prof Stuart Forbes and his team work to understand the role of liver progenitor cells (HPCs) in the damaged liver. They aim to identify the signals that control the repair of damaged tissue, which will offer targets for drugs to stimulate healing of the liver. They also study the use of stem cells to repair the liver following transplantation by improving liver regeneration and removing scar tissue.

Prof Stuart Forbes research group

Macrophage cell therapy for liver cirrhosis

Prof Dave Hay research group

Prof Dave Hay focuses on generating hepatocytes (liver cells) from embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. He has developed a technology to produce large quantities of hepatocytes in a dish, which can be used to develop novel models of drug-induced liver injury and Hepatitis C virus infection. In the long run, these cells might represent a source for supporting failing human liver function. Prof Hay also collaborates with Prof Mark Bradley at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry. Together they investigate chemical substances, such as particular synthetic surfaces, that can provide support for stem cells and help them turn into liver cells.

Prof Dave Hay's research group


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