3D Liver Structures Developed By International Stem Cell Corporation

Source: Arek Socha, no changes made, CC0 Creative Commons.
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International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO), founded in 2001, and headquartered in Carlsbad, California, is focused on the therapeutic applications of human parthenogenetic stem cells (hpSCs) and the development and commercialization of cell-based research and cosmetic products.

The liver works to actively remove toxins and other impurities from the blood through a unique filtering system. It is also an important site for converting food to energy and storing fat-soluble vitamins like D and E. Liver disease typically develops when the liver’s ability to perform these metabolic functions is compromised.

According to the American Liver Foundation, approximately 17,000 patients are on the U.S. liver transplant waiting list with only 6,000 liver transplants performed each year. While liver transplantation is a practical treatment option for these candidates, increasing waiting times for organ transplantation has led to the deaths of nearly 17% of those who were on the waiting list.

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According to the company, ISCO’s Research and Development team has recently developed novel methods that efficiently generate human 3D liver-like tissue.

The 3D liver structures themselves are produced from human pluripotent stem cell derived-liver progenitor cells (hpLPC). As these cells differentiate in 3D culture, they form liver-like tissue that consists of hepatocytes, choangiocytes, and hepatic stellate cells. The 3D liver tissue can be maintained in culture for more than one month, with stable albumin, transthyretin, alpha-1 antitrypsin, and metabolic P450 (CYP3A4, CYP1A2) enzyme protein expression levels that are typically found in mature human liver tissue.

The hpLPC can be derived from any kind of pluripotent stem cells, including human embryonic, induced pluripotent, or parthenogenetic stem cells, via ISCO’s proprietary highly efficient and scalable differentiation method. This opens wide opportunities for licensing the technology for use in drug development and potentially as therapeutic tissue for the treatment of liver disease.

“Such realistic 3D representations like the one we’ve developed will be invaluable for the future study of the abnormalities in liver diseases, as well as testing the efficacy of certain drug therapies,” … “For us, the next phase will involve testing the structures in rodents to see whether or not they will engraft and start functioning like a real liver,” – Russell Kern, PhD., Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of ISCO.



  1. https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/08/06/1547336/0/en/International-Stem-Cell-Corporation-Developed-3D-Liver-Structures.html
  2. https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/international-stem-cell-corporation#section-overview