Implanting frozen liver cells is a relatively new procedure that has, reportedly, been used to treat very young patients with liver problems. Thawing frozen liver cells, however, tends to cause a fraction of the cells to die off and other damaged cells show poor function.
To ameliorate this problem, researchers at Kings College Hospital, London have used mesenchymal stem cells from fat or umbilical cord to improve the viability and function of frozen liver cells.
Emer Fitzpatrick and her colleagues at Kings College Hospital reasoned that mesenchymal stem cells and the multitudes of healing molecules that these cells secrete should be able to “lend proregenerative characteristics to liver cells.”
Thus by co-culturing thawed liver cells with mesenchymal stem cells from fat or umbilical cord, Fitzpatrick and others demonstrated that the rate of cell survival of the liver cells and their functionality increased in comparison with liver cells grown on their own.
Fitzpatrick hopes that such a co-culture technique might improve the clinical usefulness of frozen liver cells for transplantation.