Liver failure is a very deadly disease that kills thousands of people each year. It occurs when healthy cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue, which prevent regeneration and healthy function.
Scientists have been trying to find a way to replace this scar tissue with healthy tissue for some time now. Initially it was thought that stem cells are the answer, but they require extensive amounts of grafting.
Now, researchers from the University of California have found a new way of treating liver failure through the use of viruses. These specially engineered viruses are designed to carry a cocktail of modified genes and chemical compounds directly into the scarred tissue.
This cocktail targets the myofibroblasts in the tissue and convert other types of cells it into healthy hepatocytes cells. In doing so, it starts the process of replacing the scarred tissue with new patches of healthy tissue.
These new cells are then assimilated into the liver and encouraged to multiply, thus reducing the damage caused to the system. The scientists have already tested this treatment in mice with positive results.
They are now focusing on further research, which would one day lead to human trails. Once that happens, it would radically change how we deal with liver diseases.