SEJONG, Dec. 27 (Korea Bizwire) – A team of Korean scientists has successfully developed an artificial liver, based on pig liver, that can be used for human transplants.
The breakthrough was part of the Woo Jang-choon Project, named after a renowned Korean botanist and agricultural scientist of the same name, conducted jointly by researchers from Seoul National University and Kangwon National University.
The project was launched in 2012 with the support of the Rural Development Administration, with the goal of nurturing Korea’s top scientists and developing agricultural technology.
According to officials, the leading cause of death for Koreans in their 40s and 50s is liver cancer, while the mortality rates from other liver-related diseases are also high relative to other diseases.
The only treatment method for refractory liver diseases is transplantation, which is difficult in Korea given the poor organ donation rate, and officials expect the team’s xenotransplantation breakthrough to prove useful in future research.
The artificial liver developed by the team is very similar to the actual human organ, in terms of both structure and functionality.
The new organ is free of retroviruses, which can trigger critical immuno-rejection even after a successful transplant surgery, meaning that, together with cells generated from iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells), developing a customized artificial liver is not too far from realization.
“There are many technological limitations to be overcome in the development and commercialization of artificial organs. We need consistent investment in related research efforts to solve these problems,” said an RDA official. “The biggest significance in our latest advancement is in that we have successfully resolved the issue of immuno-rejection. There’s much to look forward to.”
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)