Center for Hepatitis and Liver Tissue Engineering
Hepatitis is an important worldwide cause of acute and chronic liver disease. Etiologies include toxins, drugs, NASH, and viruses. Viral hepatitis alone afflicts over half a billion people around the world. Among the responsible viruses are hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and hepatitis D virus (HDV). Complications include fulminant liver failure, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Current therapies are inadequate for most infected patients, and the clinical needs are increasing. For example, in the U.S., HCV is now the leading cause of liver transplantation and HCC. Unfortunately, there is already a critical organ shortage, with the number of patients suffering from end-stage liver disease and requiring liver transplantation expected to dramatically increase in the decade to come.
Impediments to the fabrication of artificial liver tissues from hepatocytes in traditional culture include the lack of the critical components of the 3-D in vivo physiological architecture of the liver, the difficulty in recreating the natural small distances between liver cell plates and capillary flow, and an optimal source for the cells used to create these tissues.
Fortunately, a better understanding of the molecular virology of hepatitis viruses is leading to the development of novel antiviral strategies, an increasing number of which are entering the clinic or clinical trials. Moreover, advances in material science, microfabrication technologies, and stem cell biology offer exciting opportunities for novel approaches to the engineering of human liver tissues.
Stanford’s special expertise in all of the above areas allows for unique synergies to yield important new advances in hepatitis and liver tissue engineering.The Center for Hepatitis and Liver Tissue Engineering was established by ITI to help catalyze and promote these efforts.
The vision of the Center is thus to
- leverage the diverse scientific excellence of Stanford University into a powerhouse leading Center focused on hepatitis and the engineering of liver tissues, and
- be at the forefront of novel therapeutic strategies and their translation into the therapies of the future. The Center operates within the context of the ITI Institute, and also serves as a bridge to the Cancer Center and the Stem Cell Institute
The Center’s mission is to bring together researchers from hepatology, transplant, molecular virology and immunology as well as the basic biological and physical sciences; to promote multi-disciplinary approaches to critical unmet needs in hepatitis and liver disease; and to support early-stage, high impact, highly-innovative studies relevant to the Center’s research themes. The Center operates at Stanford University, the Palo Alto Veterans Administration (PAVA) and affiliated institutions. The Center also has a dedicated Clinical Core whose mission is to provide the necessary infrastructure to conduct clinical trials of new hepatitis treatment strategies, and to serve as a coordinating center for the exciting array of cutting-edge research assays and technologies available at Stanford. The Core includes experienced study coordinators, technician, and serum and tissue bank. It is thus designed to provide the maximal understanding of candidate drugs’ mechanisms of action and best guide the clinical development of optimal therapies.Everyone is welcome to be a Center member and participate in its activities.
Center Research Forum Series
The Center for Hepatitis and Liver Tissue Engineering is pleased to announce, under the auspices of the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection (ITI), a monthly Research Symposium. The purpose is to provide a forum for a monthly gathering of Center members to share on-going or planned research activities related to hepatitis or liver tissue engineering. At the least, this will be an opportunity to learn more about the broad array of research being conducted at Stanford and the VA that is relevant to the Center's themes. Hopefully, exciting and productive collaborations will also be facilitated by this venue. Students and postdocs are particularly encouraged to attend as well.The monthly Research Symposium takes place Wednesday from 4:30 to-5:30pm as part of the GI division weekly seminar series
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Pilot Studies Program
A future planned offering of the Center is a Pilot Studies Program. It is designed to provide pilot study funds to support “proof-of-concept” projects or the supplementation/completion of relevant projects. Priorities of funding include:
- collaboration with other Center members
- likelihood to result in collaborative publication
- documented recognition of prior Center support
- availability of matching funds to leverage impact of Center resources
- clinical trials of novel antiviral strategies
- new systems for growing liver tissue, including stem cells
- proof-of-concept for novel antiviral strategies
- molecular virology and cell biology of hepatitis viruses
- immunology and pathophysiology of hepatitis infections
- mechanisms of, and therapies for, hepatitis-associated cancers
Hepatitis Center Clinical Core
Available to Center members seeking to lead human trials of novel therapeutics. Designed to provide support for high impact, highly-innovative studies focused on new treatments for hepatitis. Capacity to support all stages of clinical investigation from early phase I, including PK studies, through phase II.
This dedicated Clinical Core includes:
- experienced study coordinators
- laboratory technician
- serum and tissue bank
- inherent “dial-up” capacity
- set up to fully serve hepatology clinics at both Stanford and VA sites
In addition to providing customary support for conducting clinical trials, the Core serves as an efficient interface with other potential researchers representing the diverse scientific excellence of Stanford University.