Dr Holger Gerhardt, London Research Institute / Professor Yaakov Nahmias,  Cancer Research UK Hadassah – Hebrew University Medical Centre

Liver disease is the fifth largest cause of death in the UK and is constantly rising. Fewer livers are available for transplantation than needed.  

Stem cell technologies can bridge this gap by creating new livers from human cells. However, current techniques result in the generation of liver cells with low function and a limited ability to survive transplantation. Small blood vessels are critical for supporting cell survival by providing a supply of oxygen and nutrients

This project, a collaborative study of the Gerhardt (London Research Institute) and Nahmias (Hadassah - Hebrew University Medical Centre) labs, aims to establish a  network of blood vessels that supports the development of a human liver in a Petri dish.  

This research has the short term potential to become a new platform for the study of liver regeneration and the long-term potential to replace usual liver transplantation. 

About the Researchers

Dr Holger Gerhardt

Department of Vascular Biology, London Research Institute – Cancer Research UK

Dr. Gerhardt received his PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, and completed his postdoctoral training at Gothenburg University, Sweden. Since 2004 he is Head of the Vascular Biology Laboratory at the London Research Institute. Gerhardt is an EMBO Young Investigator, a Lister Prize Fellow, and recipient of the Hooke Medal and the Judah Folkman Award.

Professor Yaakov Nahmias

Department of Bioengineering, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof Nahmias received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota and completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School where he also held a faculty position. Since 2009 he is the Director of the Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University. Nahmias is the recipient of an NIH career award and an ERC starting grant.

“The BIRAX Regenerative Medicine Initiative stimulated the integration of our research activities combining analysis of the fundamental mechanisms in blood vessel patterning with stem cell and tissue engineering to address the unique challenges of engineering a functionally vascularized liver tissue from human stem cells. Without the funding and active networking efforts of the initiative, this work would not have been possible.”