Hepatic assist devices: will they ever be successful?

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2009 Feb;11(1):64-8. doi: 10.1007/s11894-009-0010-x.


Hepatic assist remains elusive. Bioartificial livers (BALs), consisting of liver cells or tissue in a synthetic housing, have been promising but have not proven successful in clinical trials. Artificial livers that consist of sophisticated sorbents and membranes cannot support a failing liver but may shorten episodes of acute decompensation in patients with stable cirrhosis. These artificial livers are most likely to find a place as temporary support prior to transplantation. True liver support will require a BAL. This article proposes goals for making a clinically useful BAL, with attention to systems biology and potential sources of hepatocytes.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hepatocytes*
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / therapy*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Liver, Artificial*


  • Biocompatible Materials