Functional Human Hepatocytes, Stellate Cells and Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells from Stem Cells


Coordinator : Prof. Catherine Verfaillie, K.U.Leuven


Prof. Leo van Grunsven, VUB
Prof. Tania Roskams, KULeuven
Prof. Jan Vanfleteren, IMEC
Prof. Peter Dubruel, UGent
Prof. Ria Cornelissen, UGent
Prof. Uwe Himmelreich, KULeuven

Subcontract: Prof. Geert Leroux-Roels, UGent

Funding: IWT-SBO (2010-2013)


The overarching goal of HEPSTEM is to develop from human pluripotent stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) mature, functional hepatocytes.

Such cells could be used :
  • by the pharmaceutical industry to evaluate drug metabolism; study mechanisms underlying HBV/HCV infections and develop antiviral therapies,
  • in bioartificial liver devices that can support detoxification functions of the liver to bridge patients with acute liver failure to liver transplantation. Some positive clinical trials have already been reported, but further exploration of the usefulness of BAL devices has been hampered by lack of suitable parenchymal liver cells.
  • as source of cells for hepatocyte transplantation. Small clinical trials have suggested that parenchymal cell function can be - at least temporarily - replaced by transplanting hepatocytes. Further testing of this therapy is also hampered by lack of suitable parenchymal liver cells.

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