August 20, 2008

Stem Cells for Liver Repair?

By Risha Chitlangia

New Delhi: The paediatric surgery department at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is conducting a pilot study to see the effects of stem cell in treating biliary atresia, which results in liver cirrhosis. Biliary atresia is a rare condition in which the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent. The department started the pilot project after getting encouraging results from initial trials which have been going on for three years.

"Liver transplant is the only solution to liver cirrhosis caused due to biliary atresia today. But in infants there is little success and not many families are able to get a donor," said Dr D K Gupta, head of the department, paediatric surgery , AIIMS.

So far the department has given 15 infants with cirrhotic liver stem cell treatment . Of them, eight have survived. "We are not saying that it is a definite cure for biliary atresia, as a lot of study and research is still required to come to that conclusion. These are medically written off cases and slight improvement with the use of stem cells gives us hope that it could be developed," said Dr Gupta.

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