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Last modification:
february 17th 2011

Patrick Maurel, PhD

Hepatic Stem Cells and Liver Biotherapy
Inserm U1040, Biotherapy Research Institute
CHU Saint Eloi, 80 ave. Augustin Fliche
34295 Montpellier (Cedex 05) France

Our research program focuses on three main themes:  hepatic detoxication, hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) and liver stem cells. The work is based on the original methodology of primary cultures of human hepatocytes, and combines both basic and clinical research.

Key words: human hepatocyte culture, cytochrome P450 (CYP), gene regulation, nuclear receptors PXR and CAR, metabolism and side effects of drugs, replication of hepatis C virus, liver stem cell, embryonic stem cell, differentiation

Access to : HUG-HUF Joint meeting 22-23 october 2010

book Foreword
Primary human hepatocytes offer a unique model for investigating basic mechanisms of tissue differentiation, proliferation, and viability as well as a privileged tool for testing drug metabolism, efficacy, and toxicity. Thus, dissecting the extracellular and intracellular signals which drive primary hepatocyte biology has allowed, in combination with in vivo studies, a much better understanding of the interplay between cell differentiation, viability, metabolism, and proliferation. In fact, investigating primary hepatocyte biology offers a concrete case of inter- and multidisciplinary research, the results of which expand far beyond the liver and have a profound impact on the other fields of biology.
In this context, what is unique in the review articles edited by Dr. Patrick Maurel in this textbook is the interdisciplinary vision which is shown and the combination of academic- and industry-driven perspectives. Thus, the authors offer a most interesting and comprehensive overview of the various assets and challenges of primary hepatocyte culture, highlighting major technical problems, such as cryopreservation, the use of primary hepatocytes for cell therapy, etc.
Importantly, they also provide the most updated highlights on the fundamental biological processes which drive liver development, liver stem cell identification, etc., the comprehension of which is absolutely necessary to reinforce the potential of primary hepatocyte culture. Finally, this textbook perfectly demonstrates how primary hepatocytes can be extremely useful for industrial partners who aim to investigate the efficacy, metabolism, and toxicity of their drugs in various settings.
Overall, this textbook should urge to reinforce our capacity to obtain primary human hepatocytes in the context of liver resection and transplantation. Indeed, one can only view as a paradox such clear illustration of the potential of this material and the major present difficulties to get access to it. This major issue will only be solved in the context of consortia, organized in a public–private-driven approach.
Christian Bréchot
Mérieux Alliance France