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article imageWorld's first liver cell implant

By Nancy Houser     Nov 17, 2011 in Health
London - A medical team at King's College Hospital, in South London, has successfully implanted donor liver cells into the abdomen of an eight-month boy, instead of waiting for a liver from a transplant list.
A world's first technique, the process formed a temporary liver until the boy's own liver repaired itself, diseased from a life-threatening virus.
Close to death approximately six months ago, Ilyaad Syed is now being called the "miracle boy." According to the BBC, within 48 hours after getting the injection, the boy's father saw him getting better. By the end of two weeks, the boy's own liver had begun to recover.
The injected liver cells processed toxins in the boy's body as the his own liver should, and produced vital proteins. When injected, the cells were coated with the same chemical found in algae. This protected the donor cells from being attacked by the boy's immune system. A huge benefit of the injections over a liver transplant is that Iyaad will not need to take immunosuppressant drugs.
These are drugs that affect the activity of the immune system, with numerous side effects and risks. Organ transplant patients are less able to resist infections and the spread of malignant cells when on immunosuppressant medicine.
Additionally, the drugs can interact with other types of medication, cause kidney injury, hyperglycemia, liver injury, peptic ulcers, and hypertension. The liver injection was able to by-pass this step, making it much safer on the infant.
Professor Anil Dhawan, a liver specialist at the hospital, had told BBC,
"This is the first time this treatment has been used to treat a child with acute liver failure. It's only a few months back when I first saw this child who was so sick requiring support on dialysis and a breathing machine.
"We think we have given him another chance of life and seeing him now six months down the road with nearly normal liver function is remarkable."
Even though Iyaad's liver injection was a success, a technical large clinical trial is still needed . Further testing will tell if other patients diagnosed with acute liver failure can be treated. The goal of the liver injections is for it to become a standard treatment for people of all ages. Currently, the liver transplant list in the UK is not enough, with approximately 100 people dying annually waiting for a donor liver.
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