8 comments

  • blensor 10 days ago

    I am not a medical expert or even remotely tied to that field but don't livers regrow to some extent? If this process could be extended even further wouldn't that mean we could regrow complete livers from partial donations pretty soon, making the whole "waiting for a donor" gamble obsolete?

    • Zemke 10 days ago

      Yes.

      > The seven-day successful perfusion of poor-quality livers now allows for a wide range of strategies, e.g. repair of preexisting injury, cleaning of fat deposits in the liver or even regeneration of partial livers.

      • toomuchtodo 10 days ago

        I assume that this might even assist in the growth of livers (extracellular matrix, liver and circulatory tissues) from stem cells.

      • war1025 10 days ago

        I think I read recently (don't know where, not looking it up) that the liver can regrow in the sense that it is made of lobes, and you can lose a lobe and the others will expand to restore full function.

        But the lobes themselves don't regenerate, so it's not a thing that can be done more than a time or two.

        • Karlozkiller 10 days ago

          No expert either, but afaik you can divide livers into thirds and they will regrow. So when you transplant a liver you take two thirds from the donor, I assume to give the recipient more liver to work with, but I don't know why. (spelling edit)

          • social_quotient 10 days ago

            Yeah seems 25% is needed for regrow. That number seems interesting, almost like the body’s parity raid bit.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver_regeneration

            • samstave 10 days ago

              Funny to use “parity raid bit” on an SPOF organ such as is the liver.

              Though, i have always been curious as to why the body only has one liver while having pairs of many other organs...

              • ASalazarMX 10 days ago

                Adding to your question, why did the liver evolve to regenerate while other organs evolved to have spares? What makes it special?

                • akiselev 10 days ago

                  The liver is responsible for clearing out the majority of toxins and since many of them can cause cell death, the organ needs to be able to regenerate itself.

                  • riversflow 10 days ago

                    I’m guessing it has something to do with the size of a liver. Organs that have spares are relatively small.

                    • abakker 10 days ago

                      Lungs? They’re pretty big. My grandfather lived 60 years with only 1, and it stretched to fill most of his chest cavity.

                  • trhway 10 days ago

                    a plastic surgery to build in Klingon like capabilities - take the piece of the liver like for transplant and transplant it into the other side of the body, and after some time for regrow the person would just have 2 full livers.

                • nkrisc 10 days ago

                  I'm not an expert but that won't stop me from guessing why!

                  Perhaps it would be far easier for the donor to regrow the majority of their own liver in their own body than it would be for the recipient, given the immune response and other factors that I would imagine complicate a transplant.

              • coder1001 10 days ago

                One great use of this could taking good parts of a cancer's patient's liver, regrowing the parts independently and then putting back the part that does not show any sign of cancer.

                Not sure if one week will do it, but could be very viable when this tech is extended to more than a week.

                Major advantage of reusing one's liver is the body would be less likely to reject it, hence relying less on immune suppression medications.

                • epmaybe 10 days ago

                  You hit the nail on the head. The tech needs to be extended more than a week without massive necrosis (which occurred in 4/10 livers in the study). I think that's something the authors of the Nature paper needed to have measured more of continuously (on top of the ATP production, BUN clearance, etc). Not sure which markers, to be honest, but there should be a decent range of apoptotic factors that can be sampled.

                  • JulianMorrison 10 days ago

                    I wonder if they could just break the liver up into pieces, junk the 4/10 pieces that went oogy, keep and merge the rest?

                    • cstejerean 10 days ago

                      Apparently at least 25% of the liver is needed to regenerate into a whole liver. So at most you could break it up into 4 pieces (or maybe 3 to be on the safe side).

                  • stuartbman 10 days ago

                    Unfortunately most liver cancer is metastases from elsewhere, and once its in the liver, its likely to have spread to other organs as well, so this will not affect prognosis as you say until the cancer itself is treated.

                    • esturk 10 days ago

                      You mean "most cancer in the liver" and not liver cancer. Liver cancer means HCC, as in the cancer originated from there.

                      • stuartbman 9 days ago

                        I do, but the issue is also true for HCC, as the damage is often quite diffuse and less amenable to resection (DOI- not a liver doctor)

                    • GGfpc 10 days ago

                      Can a person survive without a liver for 1 week?

                      • toss1 10 days ago

                        Based on the experiences of a friend & close family member & what the doctors said: when your liver stops functioning, you will have about six weeks to live. The prognosis schedule was pretty much spot-on in both cases,and the last week has much less useful consciousness. Since the first few weeks are not really debilitating, I'd wager that one week without a liver to re-implant a repaired organ should be a good plan.

                        • golem14 10 days ago

                          Out of curiosity: Amanita poison I thought mostly attacked the liver and leads to death in much less than 6 weeks (more like a few days, maybe a week). So I assume the 6 weeks means massive effort in the ER to stabilize the patient without liver, maybe some advanced blood filtering?

                          • toss1 10 days ago

                            Interesting discrepancy.

                            Both the ones I knew were in hospice and not a huge intervention for the six weeks, so not a tone of continuing intervention.

                            I'd guess that liver failure is maybe defined not as 100% failure, but failure to keep up with daily demand due to an external impairment such as cancer, and that this is just a typical curve of declining function until the body becomes too poisoned to survive.

                            Anybody with more detailed real bio/medical information?

                            • husarcik 10 days ago

                              My medical education is congruent with your thoughts. Liver failure is defined as partial or complete loss of function. You're also right about the "too poisoned to survive" aka end-stage liver disease. People in this stage often die from too much toxin build up, infection, or bleeding. Your explanation is great.

                              • toss1 10 days ago

                                Thanks! very helpful.

                            • UnFleshedOne 10 days ago

                              There might be necrosis of the liver involved, which adds a dump of toxins on top of non-functioning liver.

                          • coder1001 10 days ago

                            You wouldn't necessarily have to remove all of the liver. If you take say 50% of it, then the other 50% can regrow assuming a good chunk of it is still alive.

                            • MetricT 10 days ago

                              No. My brother suffered acute liver failure following a diagnostic procedure to check his brain after having brain cancer surgery. He survived two weeks. And they were a horrible two weeks.

                              • sizzle 10 days ago

                                I'm sorry for your loss. I hope no one has to go through this again with the advances in this new liver extending technology.

                            • dghughes 10 days ago

                              I've always been amazed how livers can regenerate. But I recall reading the new liver is not a perfect copy there's some loss of function. I tried to find out what it was that I read but I can't find anything about it.

                              • pkaye 10 days ago

                                I think it regenerates the bulk tissue but cannot reform the major arteries, veins and ducts.

                            • greatpatton 10 days ago

                              I'm wondering how do they control pathogens, as from my understanding the perfusate is lacking white blood cell. This is not described in the Nature article.

                              However this kind of technologies open really a lot of new possibilities regarding organ transplantation, and even auto transplantation as describe at the end of the article.

                              • epmaybe 10 days ago

                                The liver has reticuloendothelial tissues (along with spleen, lymph nodes) that do technically produce white blood cells. I'm not sure how much of this production is still active in adults.

                              • pharke 10 days ago

                                I'm wondering if this will be a good test bed for keeping other organs alive outside the body. As far as I know, the liver is the most robust organ and so makes a natural starting point for this kind of work.

                                • baxtr 10 days ago

                                  The first question that popped into my mind is: does this work for brains too?

                                  • awinter-py 10 days ago

                                    or as jim jarmusch would say, only livers left alive

                                    • piterdevries 10 days ago

                                      What about a head?

                                      • mschuster91 10 days ago

                                        This one will probably take decades to get in a useful state.

                                        For head (or other organ) artificial alive-keeping we still don't know enough about how they work - and in case of especially the head we don't have the adequate technology yet to properly reconnect the neurons.

                                        It might be that we can do this sooner than keeping the full head alive though, given that there is way more investment in such research to help people with spinal injuries regain motor control.

                                        • BurningFrog 10 days ago

                                          It seems like the inputs the head requires are pretty well defined.

                                          Oxygenated, nutrition loaded blood mainly. But I'm sure that misses 8 unsolvable essentials...

                                          Preserving sanity for the severed head is a whole other story.

                                          • mschuster91 10 days ago

                                            It's more complicated than "only" blood. The hormones and other signalling chemicals involved in the brain-body communication are not really figured out - we don't even know what hormonal balance is "normal" and treat mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia with a "shotgun" approach - shoot a lot of loads and see which one has an effect.

                                            • BurningFrog 10 days ago

                                              There are also nerve "cables" to interface with.

                                              • aledalgrande 10 days ago

                                                I've never heard about reconnecting severed nerves and have them function. Is that currently possible?

                                                • BurningFrog 10 days ago

                                                  Not that I know.

                                                  But it's at least an understandable and defined problem.

                                      • julsimon 10 days ago

                                        Just add some fava beans and a nice Chianti.