Research Group

  • Dr. David A. Gerber, Principal Investigator
  • Jian Wang, Research Associate
  • Lujun Song, Technician


  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA


  • The Immunologic Basis of Hepatic Progenitor Cell Transplantation

Liver cell therapy has the potential to successfully address many problems associated with liver transplantation (e.g. the need for immunosuppresion, morbidity of surgery and shortage of organs). A single liver could be a potentially therapeutic cellular source for multiple patients. Previous experimental attempts at liver cell therapies have unsuccessfully made use of unfractionated adult liver cells as a potential treatment for patients with inborn errors of metabolism or patients with fulminant hepatic failure that need a temporary bridge until their native liver regenerates. In addition, the past failures of mature hepatocyte transplantation have at least partly been related to issues of immunogenicity.

Progenitor cells (a cellular population that is defined as pluripotent, capable of extensive growth, and possibly able to replicate) should be able to expand extensively in vivo offering the greatest hope for liver reconstitution. The potential of hepatic progenitor cells in transplantation is dependent upon understanding their ability to mature to a functional cell and understanding their ability to initiate an alloimmune response or induce tolerance in the host. The goal of the following experiments is to develop a greater understanding of the cellular milieu of the liver and to develop and understand the immunogenicity of the hepatic progenitor cell population.

Further advances in the field of hepatic stem cell biology will potentially allow us to offer a cell-based therapeutic modality for patients with fulminant hepatic failure, end stage liver disease and/or inherited diseases of the liver that is as efficacious as solid organ transplantation, but does not require long-term immunosuppression.