The liver performs over 500 different functions! In fact, it is so important that we cannot live without our liver.
The quest for a device that can fill in for the function of the liver, at least temporarily, has been underway for decades.
Early in 1956, the first experiment using a biological artificial liver was conducted, using a live dog’s liver that was placed inside another critically ill dog.
In October 1958, the first human patient, a young man, was placed on the laboratory made biological artificial liver. This first case was very successful, resulting in the patient’s recovery.
In 2001, Dr. Kenneth Matsumura and his team developed a functioning artificial liver that performed most of the activity of a normal liver because it was partially made of normal liver cells.
British scientists have since created the first artificial liver tissue from stem cells. The resulting ‘mini-liver’ is the size of a small coin. The same technique will be further developed to create a full-size liver.
In fifteen years’ time, entire livers could be grown in the lab and then be transplanted into human beings. Isn’t that awesome?