Academia and industry partner to advance liver tissue models

The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Samsara Sciences, Inc. (both CA, USA) will collaborate on the development of techniques to isolate and characterize liver cells. They hope to drive insights into liver biology, drug safety and efficacy, and the treatment of liver disease.

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The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Samsara Sciences, Inc. (both CA, USA) are joining forces to develop techniques to isolate and characterize liver cells, in order to gain liver biology insights, drive drug safety and efficacy, and generate treatments for liver disease.

The University of California, San Diego Medical School scientists will generate protocols for the isolation of specialized human liver cells. Additionally, they will extensively characterize the phenotype and function of these cells in a range of laboratory and animal models. Samsara (a subsidiary of Organovo Holdings, Inc.) will subsequently focus on the commercial supply of specialized cells for applications in bioprinted tissues, among other cell-based models.

"This is a unique arrangement," explained Tatiana Kisseleva (UC San Diego Medical School). "Samsara's resources will allow us to generate high-quality cells to conduct translational research on liver injury, cirrhosis and cancer, while Samsara benefits from our expertise in liver cell isolation and characterization."

Instead of focusing on the more intensively studied hepatocytes, the groups will include other supporting cells within the liver. Studies are revealing that the presence of these supporting cells, in an arrangement of relevance to the human body, significantly affect the performance and function of liver cells in laboratory experiments.

"We formed Samsara based on repeated observations that the functional performance of cell-based models is dependent to a large degree on the quality and phenotype of the input cells being used," commented Sharon Presnell (Samsara Sciences). "We're extremely excited to be working with Dr Kisseleva. As a leading expert in liver cell biology, she is well positioned to develop isolation and characterization strategies that yield stellate and other support cells that are ideally suited for use in 3D-bioprinted tissue applications."

– Written by Daphne Boulicault


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From RegMedNet Sponsor Company Asymmetrex, LLC:

The new collaborative undertaking announced by the UCSD School of Medicine and Samsara Sciences, though certainly needed, is by no means an unfamiliar endeavor. In its central and essential role in human metabolism and detoxification, the liver has been a long-standing target for investigation and bioengineering for drug development and disease treatment. As such, there have been important advances in medically-targeted human liver technologies including microsomal assays, intact liver tissue assays, and liver organ transplant therapy. Though the liver hepatocyte has been the dominant cell for attention in many of these studies, previous liver tissue engineering studies have also focused on the total cellular ecology of the liver, including one or more of the following liver cell types as well: endothelial cells, biliary epithelial cells, phagocytic Kupffer cells, stellate cells, committed progenitor hepatoblast cells, and liver tissue stem cells. Although investigations to improve isolation, characterization, and tissue engineering with each of these liver cell types continue to be of interest, because of its primary responsibility for the critical functions of metabolism and detoxification, the hepatocyte continues to command the unmet need of greatest medical importance. Whether for drug development or organ transplant medicine, this need remains addressing the scarcity of normal human hepatocytes with reliable and faithful hepatic function.

Expansion of natural, normal, adult human liver stem cells that retain the ability to produce differentiated cells with mature hepatocyte properties is one of Asymmetrex's patented technologies (; US7824912). In addition, the company has expertise in liver cell fractionation with minimized perturbations of normal cellular physiology. Each of these attributes could be of significant advantage in UCSD-Samsara Sciences's newly announced undertaking.

James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D.
Asymmetrex, LLC