Sarah Anderson, Dr.Vidic, 2pm
Korey Atherton, Dr.Vidic, 2pm
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF BIOMATERIALS IN AN EFFORT TO CREATE
AN ARTIFICIAL LIVER
One of the many challenges facing our generation is the preservation of quality life experiences in an aging population. One
way this is being done is through the augmented research into and usage of artificial organs such as liver, heart, and kidneys.
The liver in particular executes many of the functions, including the regulation of lipids and carbohydrates, and the
detoxification of blood, essential to the continuation of an independent and fulfilling life [Biomaterials, Artificial Organs and
Tissue Engineering]. Of these functions, none but the detoxification of blood is replicable by an entirely artificial construct.
Thus to provide a complete reconstruction of the liver’s functions, it is necessary for it to be a hybrid, some combination of
artificial constructs and tissue. Because the liver has a large potential for the ability to self-repair, a tissue engineering
solution is one of the forerunning possibilities for alleviation of liver related ailments.
Current devices being used to rectify liver problems are the BAL, bioartifical liver, which is based on pig heptocytes and the
ELAD, which stands for, extracorpeal liver assist device. These devices help to clean out the blood and are meant to be used
for a short period of time while the patients either waits for a transplant or their own liver to regenerate. While these
machines, when perfected, will be extremely important for treating failing livers, the best solution would be to create an
artificial liver made from human cells that will not be rejected by the body. Current theories on how bioengineers can create
a more sustainable and effective liver focus around isolated cell transplantation and implantation of tissue engineered
constructs [http://web.mit.edu/lmrt/publications/2001/Allen2001_Hepat.pdf]. The devices created by the latter will
incorporate the isolated cells into bioreactors that encourage growth and function as well as movement within the organ to
other parts that need to be rebuilt. Positive clinical trials have yet to be held while using cellular components in the BAL, but
the funding and research to see results from these types of devices is still strong.
The hope is that one day an artificial liver will be created that works with the human body in the way the genuine organ does
and with the efficiency of other artificial organs such as the Jarvik heart. The ramifications of such an achievement would
greatly impact the lives of the 30,000 people, including alcoholics, those that suffer from hepatitis, sclerosis, and many other
ailments, that are lost yearly due to liver failure. (406)
The act of combining the knowledge of devices and engineered constructs and knowledge of the biological functions of the
human body is the very basis of what bioengineers do. Bioengineering takes medical issues and uses the most current
scientific procedures and ideas to try and find a more efficient method of treatment and medication delivery as well as the
creation of medical assistance devices. In the challenge of creating a new and more beneficial artificial liver, where both
artificial constructs and tissue and cell manipulation are necessary for the realization of a functional artificial liver, it falls
specifically in the category of bioengineering. (103)
Allen, Jared, Tarek Hassanein, and Sangeeta Bhatia. "Advances in Bioartificial Liver Devices." Hepatology. 34.3 (2001):
447-55. Print. <http://web.mit.edu/lmrt/publications/2001/Allen2001_hepat.pdf>
Hughes, Robin D, and Roger Williams. "Use of Bioartificial and Artificial Liver Support Devices." Thieme eJournals 16
(2007): 435-444. Web. 12 Jan. 2010. <http://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/sld/doi/10.1055/s-2007-1007256>.
The Institue of Materials, Minerals & Mining. Biomaterials, Artificial Organs and Tissue Engineering. Ed. Larry L Hench
and Julian R Jones. Boca Raton: Woodhead Publishing Limited, 2005. Print.