Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed an innovative treatment based on cell injection, capable of slowing down liver damage caused by cirrhosis. A hope when no treatment exists to stop its progression.
A glimmer of hope for the 200,000 French people affected by cirrhosis? The University of Edinburgh presented at the last congress of theAmerican Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston a new treatment avenue that could slow down this liver disease.
Therapy by injection of “reboosted” and repairing cells
This new therapy, in phase II today, would be based on Daily Mail on injections directly into the patient’s liver of collected and “reboosted” cells. Concretely, this involves taking blood cells called monocytes from the patient, then transforming them into macrophages in the laboratory, cells capable of repairing damaged tissues. These macrophages are then injected into the patient.
The lead is promising: according to preliminary results, the 26 patients treated with these injections experienced no significant worsening of their condition over the following year. In comparison, among the 24 untreated patients, four experienced considerable deterioration and three died.
Patients with severe cirrhosis generally produce fewer effective macrophages due to the damage caused by the disease, researchers explain. By preparing these cells outside the body, the hope is to repair the scarring caused by the disease and eventually reverse it.
But a result still too preliminary for the experts
In Europe according to Inserm, cirrhosis affects around 200,000 people, 30% of whom have reached the severe stage of this disease which destroys the liver. Can this lead help these patients soon? We asked the question to Dr Pauline Guillouche, hepatologist and gastro-anterologist.
According to the expert, the avenue studied is encouraging and interesting. Reinjecting these super white blood cells (by perfusion and not directly into the liver, she corrects) in the hope that they repair the patients’ liver is a real avenue.
“People who suffer from cirrhosis have a liver that no longer functions properly and whose tissue becomes fibrous. Little by little the inflammation transforms into a scar and it is this fibrosis which leads to cirrhosis. Acting on it is therefore research that makes sense.”
However, our expert advises taking this information with great caution, and for good reason: “This is still very preliminary research, phase II only and tested on a very small sample of 26 people, with results after 90 days. The trial is the nature of research, but let’s at least wait for longer-term results and conducted on a much larger group to consider this as an option. As it stands, it’s still far from being applicable in real life.”
For this reason, a larger-scale trial is planned in the United Kingdom in 2024.