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Thursday April 26th, 2012

Dr. Bin Gao exposes at the IDIBAPS Seminar the role of the immune system on liver regeneration and fibrosis

Dr. Bin Gao

Liver regeneration is a complex process. It could have important clinical applications if scientists were able to control it. Dr. Bin Gao, head of the Laboratory of Liver Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spoke at the April 17th IDIBAPS Seminar about the relationship between liver regeneration and the immune system. The talk focused on one of his main lines of research, the role of interleukin 22 (IL-22) in liver damage. The seminar was hosted by one of his colleagues at IDIBAPS, Dr. Pau Sancho, a postdoctoral researcher of the Physiopathology and treatment of ascites and altered renal function in liver cirrhosis team.

Dr. Bin Gao i Dr. Pau SanchoAccording to research by Dr. Bin Gao and his laboratory, IL-22 promotes liver regeneration. It is achieved, among other mechanisms, through the proliferation of liver progenitor cells. The speaker announced that this observation, demonstrated in animal and transgenic models, has allowed developing the first clinical studies to test its possible application in humans.

There is some controversy about the beneficial effects of using IL-22 in promoting regeneration of the liver. Critics suggest that the proliferation of progenitor cells could increase the risk of liver cancer. Dr. Bin Gao acknowledged that the risk is real provided the treatment was chronic. He noted, however, that some diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis may benefit from a short treatment to stimulate regeneration.

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