Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 14:34 UK

Ethnic liver cells help drug race

Liver cells (hepatocytes)
The liver cells have been derived from adult skin cells

Scientists have produced liver cells specific to different ethnic groups which could revolutionise the development of drugs to treat diseases.

The Edinburgh University-led study paves the way for a liver cells library to help work-out the reaction of drugs for different ethnicities.

Experts say the findings are important because in each ethnic group the liver processes drugs in different ways.

Some groups are more prone to adverse reactions than others.

The researchers have developed a way to create liver cells from adult skin taken from Caucasians and Native Americans.

Different populations not only have varying prevalence of disease but there are also genetic differences with regards to how they process drugs
Gareth Sullivan
Edinburgh University

The liver cells were created by manipulating the skin cells to resemble embryonic stem cells, which can change into different cells within the body.

The scientists are now hoping to create a library of cells to make drug development more efficient as liver cells currently used to test compounds are often of poor quality because they are taken from dead or donor tissue.

The donor cells have a low survive rate and fail to multiply, making them less reliable for drug testing.

'Adverse reactions'

The cell library would allow scientists to weed out chemical compounds that cause adverse reactions at a much earlier stage.

Gareth Sullivan, of the university's medical research council centre for regenerative medicine, said: "Different populations not only have varying prevalence of disease but there are also genetic differences with regards to how they process drugs.

"What we have been able to do will help drug discovery because it means we are able to represent different populations and make sure the drugs being developed do not have adverse reactions."

The research, which was carried out with the help of Harvard Medical School, is published in the journal, Hepatology.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Obesity drug fears investigated
25 Aug 09 |  Health
Drug could reverse liver disease
01 Jun 09 |  Tyne
Aspirin 'could cut liver damage'
27 Jan 09 |  Health

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific