Working group

Primary human liver cells

Short description

Primary human liver cells are required in order to investigate infections of the liver and to conduct preclinical tests of new agents. Isolating them from patient samples is a technologically challenging process requiring the highest levels of skill. This skill is available at the “Primary Human Liver Cells” central facility (PHH Core Facility). Valuable cell material at the facility is available to DZIF scientists for research purposes. The samples are obtained from patients whose clinical parameters are known. The isolated primary liver cells and liver stem cells are precisely characterised.

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The research group “Primary Human Liver Cells” (Primary Hepatocyte Core Facility, PHH Core Facility) provides freshly isolated, predominantly untreated liver cells to DZIF research groups for laboratory investigations. Using a reliable and gentle procedure, these liver cells are obtained from liver tissue samples obtained from patients who undergo surgery, usually for the removal of tumours. The patients give prior consent for the use of this tissue which would usually otherwise be simply thrown away.

From liver tissue to the culture of liver cells

© MHH/Bock

Even with the most modern technology available, no animal models or cell cultures exist that can completely and adequately represent the function of the human liver and its cells. Ultimately, liver cells themselves are required in order to test the relevance of research findings for humans which therefore makes this cell material very valuable for research purposes.

Primary liver cells are required for research

© MHH/Bock

In order to avoid future shortages of these valuable patient samples, the Core Facility has developed innovative methods to produce stem cells from a patient’s mature liver cells. In future, these can be used for numerous purposes for research and in hospitals.