• Science Saturday: Regenerative technology uncovers new discoveries in liver disease

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Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a method for generating bile duct cells from stem cells. This technology enables them to study important aspects of primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare bile duct disease that often destroys the liver.

Using these regenerative technologies, Robert Huebert, M.D., and Nidhi Jalan Sakrikar, Ph.D., also confirmed that primary sclerosing cholangitis has links to cellular senescence, a feature of aging cells. This research lays the foundation for additional disease modeling to better understand progression of a complex condition that until now has been poorly understood.

"We and others have developed methods of coaxing stem cells to become bile duct cells in the laboratory. This is done by exposing the cells to a specific series of growth factors that mimic natural bile duct development," says Dr. Huebert, senior author and transplant hepatologist at Mayo Clinic. "We are using this model as a platform to investigate, on a molecular level, what is driving this devastating liver disorder."

Primary sclerosing cholangitis attacks the bile duct, causing inflammation and scarring that damages the liver. Bile ducts carry digestive liquid bile from the liver to the small intestine. With no known therapies, the only hope for people in advanced stages of primary sclerosing cholangitis is a liver transplant. The disease affects approximately 1 in 10,000 people.

Regenerative medicine is a new field of practice that seeks to repair or replace damaged cells and tissues that drive disease. Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine supports Dr. Huebert's research as part of its objective of bringing new regenerative cures to the practice.

Read the rest of the article on the Center for Regenerative Medicine blog.


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