02:33pm Wednesday 20 November 2019

University of Navarra Hospital presents clinical trials for cell therapy of cirrhosis

The trials are aimed at the participation of persons suffering from hepatic cirrhosis in a relatively advanced stage, independently of the cause of the illness.

Cirrhosis is the final consequence of various chronic hepatic diseases which leads to the loss of the normal architecture of the liver and a gradual reduction in its functions. The principal structural alterations that appear in the liver are hepatocellular necrosis, fibrosis and regenerative nodules.

The disease “ends up over the years with terminal cirrhosis which requires a liver transplant, if this is viable. This is why investigating new ways of treatment is essential, in this case, cell therapy”, specified Doctor Jorge Quiroga Vila, lead researcher of the clinical trials.

Injecting hepatoprotecting cells

The totally novel treatment involves “obtaining cells from the bone marrow of the patient and cultivating them for a week in the laboratory so that they evolve until they become precursors of endothelial cells. On reaching this stage, they are injected directly into the liver via the hepatic artery”, explained Doctor Jorge Quiroga.

“The cells thus obtained”, continued the researcher, “stay in the liver, where they secrete hepatoprotecting substances, i.e. beneficial for liver function, as has been demonstrated in previous experimental studies. In fact, they are equipped to produce a series of substances with a capacity for protecting, regenerating and stimulating the growth of liver cells. The aim is to find out if they can help in the regeneration of the organ and, thereby, if the functional capacity increases and if they can reduce the alterations in the blood circulation through the liver”.

“With these trials”, pointed out the specialist, “the aim is to find out if the new treatment is effective in the onset of cirrhosis in two aspects: as regards liver function and portal high blood pressure. Moreover,” he added, “the primary objective consists of ascertaining if the therapy has no harmful effects. “Being the cells of the patient himself or herself, there is no risk of rejection. Previous experimental studies of infusions of other types of cell have not shown adverse effects but, whenever a Stage I-II clinical trial, such as this, is undertaken, safety is a fundamental aim”.

Also participating with the Hepatology Unit in the study are the University of Navarra Hospital area of Genetic Therapy and the Hepatology area at the Applied Medicine Research Centre (CIMA) of the same University.

Given that participation in the research into this new therapy is still open, those who suffer from cirrhosis and are interested in obtaining information can telephone the Hepatology Unit at the University of Navarra Hospital (948 296 637) or email ihuarte@unav.es
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