Liver is the largest solid organ of the body, weighing about 3.5 pounds. It carries many critical functions such as production of bile juices (a digestive liquid), stores energy in the form of glycogen, and cleans your blood.
THE LIVER diseases, which are usually connected with alcohol or drugs, are also referred to as hepatic diseases. Liver disease is a broad term, which includes all the problems that cause impairment in the functioning of the liver. Most of the liver diseases are incurable, and can only be managed to make the individual feel comfortable. A liver disease, in its final stages, can cause cirrhosis and liver failure, while some liver diseases can lead to liver cancer.
The patient with liver disease is left with only one hope, that is liver transplantation. Liver transplantation is a kind of surgery, which removes the infected liver with a healthy liver as a whole or with a segment of liver, which is taken from a healthy person called 'donor'. This is the only life saving treatment for liver disease, but there are many complications related with this surgery such as bleeding, clots in the blood vessels of liver, damage to the bile ducts, infection, side affects due to immunosuppressive reactions and rejection of the new liver by the body's immune system.
The other major problems with liver transplantation is a significant shortage of organ donors and the individuals who have gone through the surgery should live on auto immune suppressants for the rest of his life. To overcome this problem the researchers are working on the development of a 'functional artificial liver,' reported The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK, in the US.
Now, as per the latest research, an artificial liver can be grown with the help of 3D-printed sugar network. The scientists are working on this concept of 3D printing of cells and blood vessels to build up a tissue structure using an artificial cell. In this technology
sugar is used as the building material for 3D-printer. The difficult part in growing an artificial tissue is to keep all the cells alive in the engineered tissue, because the cells, if kept together, utilize all the nutrients from the neighboring cells and end up suffocating and dying, so a group of scientists built a synthetic vascular system that would overcome this problem.
Prof Martin Birchall, a surgeon scientist at University College London, said the research answered "a lot of fundamental problems in tissue engineering." This idea of 3D-printing can print anything in virtual and will help to overcome the problems caused due to liver diseases and many other diseases, reported BBC News.