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Mouse model develops human liver

9 March 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

lab–mouse.jpgMice could be more useful in the study of hepatitis than previously thought, as research into the possibility of growing a human liver in a mouse has proven successful.

In the past, hepatitis research has been limited to a small number of animal models. Now scientists have created a mouse with a human liver suitable for studies on conditions which affect the liver.

To do this they first engineered the livers of mice to be dependent on drugs for survival. After some time, they ceased administering the drugs and injected human liver cells instead. Results showed that the liver cells went directly to the mouse liver, helping it survive. The mouse livers also began to act like the human liver by producing chemicals such as human albumin. Human liver cells began to replace the dying mouse liver cells. In some mice, up to 95% of liver cells merged into a hybrid of human and mouse cells. When infected with Hepatitis, mice were also successfully cured.

Hepatitis is a condition where the liver becomes inflamed and if left untreated can lead to permanent scarring of the liver. Scientists hope that the new mouse model will be used to help future research into this condition as well us other diseases that affect the liver, such as malaria and cirrhosis.