The Hay laboratory (UKMRP1 Niche Hub) has developed a renewable source of human liver tissue for translational medicine – in vitro derived tissue for cell based modelling ‘in a dish’ and for developing cell based therapies for human liver disease.
The Hay team has developed defined and semi-automated systems for differentiating hepatocyte-like cells from pluripotent stem cells. The prototype systems have been tested on research and clinical grade human embryonic stem cells in collaboration with the University of Manchester. Those systems demonstrated equivalence to human hepatocytes when examined for protein secretion, prescription drug metabolism and prediction of drug induced liver injury.
The GMP ready method for cell production has been protected in partnership with the extracellular matrix provider, Biolamina. More recently the team has partnered with AstraZeneca to screen compound libraries to examine their effect on hepatocyte and liver biology. As this work with cell based screening moves forward it is anticipated that this will provide a better understanding of the potential of in vitro derived tissue and how it can be improved and appropriately deployed in vivo to treat human liver disease. In that vein, the Hay group is collaborating with King’s College London to optimise the encapsulation of stem cell derived hepatocytes using a GMP compatible process that has a successful track record in the clinic.