As reported by Forbes contributor Robin Seaton Jefferson, LyGenesis, Inc., hopes to enter human trials in 2020 on a therapy that could potentially give patients with end stage liver disease hope for new livers without having to wait on donated organs. The technology, developed through research from McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Eric Lagasse, PharmD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh and LyGenesis’ Chief Scientific Officer, uses lymph nodes as bioreactors to regrow functioning organs within a patient’s own body. The research found that a variety of different cells types and tissues, including the liver, could engraft and actually grow within lymph nodes. The company is working on injecting cadaver cells into lymph nodes to grow secondary livers.
“Remarkably, we were able to get these transplanted cells to organize, proliferate and vascularize into functioning ectopic organs, which rescued animals from otherwise fatal cases of organ failure,” Dr. Lagasse said in a statement. The research is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and conducted at the McGowan Institute.
Michael Hufford, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of LyGenesis, said the technology could address the problem of the imbalance between organ supply and demand. Instead of one donated organ treating just one patient, one donated organ could serve as the seed to treat dozens of patients simultaneously, he said. And procedures using Lygenesis’ technology would not require major transplantation surgery, Dr. Hufford said in a statement, “but would instead use a minimally invasive outpatient endoscopy, decreasing costs while enabling patients considered too sick or having too many comorbidities to qualify for traditional organ transplantation to receive treatment.”