Hepatocyte therapy spells more effective hepatitis treatment

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Melinda Remelia, S.Si., M.Biomed.
Melinda Remelia, S.Si., M.Biomed. (Source: FKUI)

Jakarta, IO – Hepatitis has remained a global health issue for years. Indonesia’s 2018 Health Baseline data reports that on average a million patients are diagnosed with hepatitis every year in our country, while WHO 2017 data shows hepatitis as the cause of 1.4 million deaths a year worldwide. Eurotransplant 2020 statistics even show that the donor need for human livers consistently remains in the fourth rank, and has for the past decade. 

Hepatitis may be caused by viral infection, excessive consumption of alcohol or accumulation of fats in the liver, all of which tend to give rise to inflammation which, if not treated promptly and properly, will allow the formation of fibrosis scar tissue, obstructing the functioning of liver cells over the long term. Advanced fibrosis will in turn lead to cirrhosis or hardening of the liver, which obstructs its function and even destroys it. Standard treatment for fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver is an organ transplant, or using hepatocyte therapy (gene therapy inspired by inserting viable liver cells). 

“However, we must understand that the biggest obstacle to get liver patients treated is the extreme difficulty of obtaining liver donors. Therefore, this study focuses on the effort to transform fibroblast cells originating from easily-accessible bodily tissues into hepatocyte cells, using cell programming techniques. The tissues used are waste left over from surgery, such as breast reconstruction and cleft palate correction surgeries. We use the breast tissue obtained from the surgery of a 37-year-old patient, and the palate tissue obtained from the surgery of a 4-year-old patient in this study,” reported Melinda Remelia, S.Si., M. Biomed, in her open doctorate validation exam, held online by the University of Indonesia Faculty of Medicine’s Biomedical Doctorate Program, last Friday (19/08/2022).