Bioartificial Liver Support Therapy
Filtration or dialysis systems can remove liver toxic substances from the blood, but they cannot substitute other functions of the liver, e.g. protein synthesis. BAL systems contain actual liver cells that might be a solution to this problem.
Most bioartificial systems today are hybrids that also have filtration/dialysis capability. The bioreactor is the central component, which contains active liver cells. A membrane of hollowfiber capillaries was the general concept, but a variety of other configurations is used in newer systems. This membrane separates the patient's (blood) plasma from the cells of the bioreactor, but allows the transport of toxins. Liver cells in the reactor take in oxygen and nutrients, and return metabolic byproducts to the plasma and even might help in detoxification.
There are several studies on bioartificial liver support systems. However it is difficult to judge which part of the effects comes from the liver cells and which from the filtration/dialysis. Seeing only the organisatorical difficulties like FDA-requirements, logistic of the living cell reactors etc. it seems doubtful to have this concept marketed in near future.
However, there is a huge market for these applications: Global demand for artificial liver systems is expected to rise to $2.795 billion in 2010, second only to artificial kidney support and more than double the expected $1.31 billion artificial heart market.
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Studies and Publication on Bioartificial Liver Support Therapy
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