Liver is a vital organ that performs several important bodily functions including bile production for digestion, protein production, synthesis of blood clotting factors, storage of glucose (sugar) in the form glycogen, and detoxification. Also, the liver cells have a remarkable ability to regenerate themselves after any damage. Due to this unique capability, the liver tissues have fascinated the researchers. True understanding of molecular and cellular connectivity and functions of the liver tissues in an in-vivo as well as in-vitro setting is very important from the viewpoint of discovery science and clinical application. Development of liver models that can provide a virtual ecosystem that mimics the molecular processes of a liver factory can help understand molecular interactions to network dynamics and whole organ functions.
These advanced liver models are mini-organs or organoids that are expected to replicate human liver physiology, anatomy, and functions from molecular layer upward. The formation of these living models is a fairly new area of science that has the potential to replace animal models. The human liver models market offer several advantages over animal models that are not always accurate and pose ethical issues. The human liver models or organoids have been used to screen new drugs for liver toxicity. These models are also being deeply studied to build a functional model of human liver development.
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The process of making a human liver model starts with a fetal liver progenitor cell, an immature cell that transforms into a specialized liver cell. The fetal liver progenitor cell is allowed to self-assemble in a small disc. These discs are composed of ferret liver cells that are pre-processed to remove all cells of the ferret. The resultant mini-organ models the actual human liver development. These models have been observed to generate hepatocytes, the basic functional cells of the liver, which is expected to produce the functional bioengineered liver tissues for transplantation into patients in the near future.
Some of the key players operating in the global human liver models market are Mimetas, InSphero, Organovo Holdings Inc., Ascendance Biotechnology, Emulate, Inc., CN Bio, and Cyfuse Biomedical.