PerspectiveCELL THERAPY

Emerging cell therapy for biliary diseases

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Science  19 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6531, pp. 786-787
DOI: 10.1126/science.abg3179

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Summary

Cell therapy has potential as an alternative to liver transplantation. The liver cell therapy field has been focused on diseases affecting hepatocytes, which provide most of the liver's metabolic and synthetic functions (1). Less attention has been paid to biliary diseases affecting cholangiocytes, the cells that form the biliary tree. This system consists of intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts and the gallbladder, and drains bile into the intestine. Because bile is toxic when it accumulates in the liver, biliary diseases can lead to liver fibrosis and failure, necessitating liver transplantation (2). Despite progress in bioengineering bile ducts for treating extrahepatic biliary diseases (3), few studies have explored cell therapy for diseases affecting intrahepatic bile ducts. Still, evidence is accumulating that supports the feasibility of cell therapy for intrahepatic biliary diseases, and on page 839 of this issue, Sampaziotis et al. (4) provide the most definitive example to date.

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