PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The success of liver transplantation has increased over the past 20 years due to improved immunosuppressive medications, surgical technique and donor-recipient selection. To date, the number of patients waiting for a liver transplant exceeds the number of transplants performed yearly by over a 2:1 ratio. Despite efforts to expand the donor pool, mortality of patients waiting for a liver remains high due to the shortage of donor organs. Herein, we discuss options for liver replacement that are currently under development. RECENT FINDINGS: Extracorporeal bioactive liver perfusion devices were investigated in the late 1990s and preliminarily demonstrated safety but failed to show clinical efficacy. Current research is ongoing, but the focus has shifted to xenotransplantation of whole organs, organ engineering and cell transplantation. These new modalities are limited to small and large animal studies and each present unique advantages and limitations. SUMMARY: Discovery of new sources of organs or cells to replace a damaged liver may be the only long-term solution to provide definitive therapy to all patients who require transplantation. The past 2 years have seen notable achievements in xenotransplantation, tissue engineering and cell transplantation. Though challenges remain, now identified, they may be readily solved.
- cell transplantation
- extracorporeal liver perfusion
- liver transplantation alternatives
- organ engineering
- tissue engineering
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy