HepaLife Technologies, Inc., a Boston-based biotechnology company, announced successful results in early testing of its patented artificial liver device. The primary component of the device is a bioreactor system, a mechanism designed to carry out the vital roles that a damaged liver can no longer perform adequately. The device, which operates outside the body, imitates a healthy liver by filtering a patient’s blood and sustaining metabolic and other key functions.
The most recent tests of the system spanned a 14-day period. The bioreactor, after first being “seeded” with HepaLife’s patented PICM-19 liver cell line, generated healthy liver cell growth and successfully removed toxins, such as ammonia, and synthesized urea, an organic compound and waste product.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 10% of the global population, including 25 million Americans, suffer from chronic liver disease. An estimated 500,000 people in China die each year from complications of liver disease. Chronic liver disease most commonly results from hepatitis C infection, alcohol abuse and drug overdose. With the scarcity of viable organ donors, high transplant costs and relatively few treatment options, a new device that serves as an artificial liver could potentially become an alternative for difficult to treat patients and a welcome addition to the limited clinical options for some patients.
Although the bioreactor is still being developed, HepaLife Technologies, Inc., is encouraged by results of the early tests. “Together, the strong performance of our PICM-19 liver cells, and early success of our bioreactor system, clearly mark significant strides in our development of a bioartificial liver device, able to replicate human liver functions and support patients with acute liver failure,” said Frank Menzler, HepaLife Technologies, Inc., president and CEO.
Source: HepaLife press release dated April 30, 2007