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Reuters Health Information (2003-05-12): Infant liver cell transplant recipients doing well


Infant liver cell transplant recipients doing well

Last Updated: 2003-05-12 10:16:11 -0400 (Reuters Health)

LONDON (Reuters) - Doctors at King's College Hospital in London said on Monday that three babies were "doing very well" after receiving pioneering liver cell transplants.

Dr. Anil Dhawan, research leader, told Reuters it was the first time that donor hepatocyte injection had been used to correct congenital Factor VII deficiency, as well as a case of progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis.

The team had also proved for the first time that liver cell transplants could work even when all the cells had previously been frozen.

"These first trials are showing every sign of being successful," he added in a statement. "All three babies are doing very well and without the hepatocyte injections one of the children would certainly have died."

The hospital said it operated last year on Mansoor Al Housani, a six-week old boy from the Middle East who was born with Factor VII deficiency, which had claimed the life of his oldest brother.

"He received three injections of hepatocytes at the age of six weeks. Following this, we have been able to reduce his Factor VII requirement by 80%," the hospital said. "We hope that a further injection will eliminate the need for Factor VII completely."

Last month, 18 month-old Lawrence Robinson, from London, became the first person to receive new liver cells for familial intrahepatic cholestasis. "Healthy liver cells have been injected into his liver, which will divide and eventually replace the defective cells, allowing the liver to function normally," the hospital said.

Seven-month old Billy Corfield, from Liverpool, was treated two days after being born with a urea cycle defect. "His current growth and brain development is comparable to that of a child of his age. He is now seven months old and is progressing very well, although he may need further injections of cells," the hospital said.

King's, which operates Europe's largest liver transplant programme, said injections might in future completely avoid the need for some replacement liver transplants.

"If the technique does provide long-term success, then 20 to 40 children could avoid liver transplantation each year in the UK," Dr. Dhawan said. "This will free more donor livers and therefore increase the overall number of people who could be offered liver replacement."

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