The largest solid organ in the body, the liver, is pretty resilient. This organ is responsible for filtering the blood that flows from the digestive system, detoxifying chemicals and manufacturing proteins that are essential to help blood clot.

As the liver metabolises toxins such as alcohol, it can become damaged but still continue to function and regenerate itself. But as the damage to the liver cells becomes more profound over time, the functions of the liver can start to decline and eventually fail.

A type of ‘reprogramming’

Good news, however, is that new research by biochemists at the University of Illinois has revealed exactly how damaged liver cells repair themselves, which may lead to progress in the treatment of chronic liver disease.

Professor Auinash Kalsotra from the department of biochemistry at the University of Illinois said, “We know that in a healthy adult liver the cells are dormant and rarely undergo cell division. However, if the liver is damaged, the liver cells re-enter the cell cycle to divide and produce more of themselves. This research looked at what is happening at the molecular level in a damaged liver that enables it to regenerate while still performing normal functions.”

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