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Centre de recherche
Tuesday, February 8 2022
Press release

Lab-grown liver cells will help us to better understand diseases

MONTREAL, February 8, 2022 – With their expertise and know-how, researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine and Université de Montréal have created an innovative system using stem cells to generate lab-grown liver (hepatic) cells that closely mimic the human liver.

Their technique could eventually lead to developing better models of human liver diseases and paving the way for the discovery of new therapies.

The results of the study, directed by Dr. Massimiliano Paganelli, were published in Stem Cell Reports.

Vital stem cells

The potential of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is vast. With their ability to multiply infinitely and to differentiate into any cell in the body, these cells can be used to study the underlying mechanisms of a disease, to test new treatments, and to test the effect of known drugs before administering them to a patient.

“However, many protocols described in the literature to generate hepatic cells from iPSCs are expensive and unreliable. There are problems of variability among the different cell lines. This does not allow for accurate and homogeneous results,” says Dr. Claudia Raggi, first author of the study.

“The number of cells obtained in most cases is very low, substantially increasing the cost of producing a disease model,” adds Dr. Paganelli, researcher and pediatric gastroenterologist at CHU Sainte-Justine and associate clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Université de Montréal.

To address this issue, Dr. Paganelli’s research team has designed a novel system using iPSCs to generate hepatic cells that are more similar to the cells composing the human liver, are reproducible and of consistent quality. One of the great advantages of this approach is the possibility of studying several diseases in vitro (in the laboratory) and of obtaining more significant results since the models are more representative of the human condition.

According to Dr. Paganelli, “This significant improvement is promising and will make it easier for scientists in the race to discover new drugs.” 

About this study

The article titled “Leveraging interacting signaling pathways to robustly improve the quality and yield of human pluripotent stem cell-derived hepatoblasts and hepatocytes,” written by Dr. Claudia Raggi et al., was published in the February 2022 issue of Stem Cell Reports. The study was funded by the Stem Cell Network, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé and the Vision Health Research Network.

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About the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

The CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with the Université de Montréal. It brings together more than 210 research investigators, including over 110 clinician-scientists, as well as 450 graduate and postgraduate students focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The centre is part of CHU Sainte-Justine, which is the largest mother-child centre in Canada.



CHU Sainte-Justine


Maude Hoffmann
Communications, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

Media resource person:

Justine Mondoux-Turcotte
Consultant – Media and External Relations
CHU Sainte-Justine
514 213-4488

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About this page
Updated on 9/28/2022
Created on 5/17/2022
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