The Liver Life Project


Research, Research and more Research

I must confess to being excited by the present research that’s being carried out into alcohol addiction. I’m beginning to believe there are other factors at work here and that our body’s immune systems may hold the key to a lot our psychological problems. It has recently been discovered, that the body’s immune system may trigger a desire to drink alcohol. Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia have found a new link between the brain's immune system and the desire to drink alcohol in the evening. * (See the link at the bottom of this page). There is also a lot of research being carried out about the link between our immune system and some causes of depression. So here could be the link or the start of the vigorous cycle. I have already spoken in these pages about the correlation between alcohol and depression. Both these conditions can go hand in glove. Depression may cause a person to want to self-medicate on alcohol in a vain attempt to lift the gloom. Alcohol, as we all know is a depressant in its self, so, a downward spiral of events will begin to emerge. If we then add the body’s immune system or a rogue gene into the mix, then we have three separate situations all contributing to the same problem. Back in May 2015, a 10-year old study revealed a startling link between high levels of anxiety and an increased risk of death from liver disease.The research, carried out by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, took account for obvious sociological and physiological factors such as alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes and class, but still, the data pointed to a clear relationship between the psychological conditions of stress and depression and the physical health of the hepatic system. There were over 165,000 participants surveyed for mental distress. They were each tracked for over a decade during which time the causes of death for those who passed on were recorded and categorised. What was found was that those who’d scored highly for signs of depression and stress were far more likely to suffer fatal liver disease. Dr Tom Russ of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences stated that this study provides further evidence for the important links between mind and body, and of the damaging effects, psychological distress can have on physical wellbeing. The work did not uncover any reasons for direct cause and effect but is the first to identify such a link between mental states and liver damage. Previous research has described how psychological conditions can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease which, in turn, may develop into obesity, raised blood pressure and then eventually to liver failure but, with this methodology controlling for such factors, it appears that the link is more direct than was previously thought. Dr. Julie Heimbach explains. A lot of the research of this nature is shared with other worldwide countries and institutions. This could spell the end of liver transplants in the future. The idea behind this is for the liver to regenerate dead cirrhotic liver cells. Enter the exciting world of stem cell research

Will Liver Transplantation become a thing of the past?

Back in Aug 2010, the Daily Mail published an article, this was entitled, “Grow your own transplant liver in a lab within just 5 years”. And can be found at:

Stem Cell Research

So, what are stem cells? I’ve also come across a further video which explains the stem cells debate rather well and also briefly touches on the ethical aspect. Here Liz Bonnin explains what stem cells are and their importance in developing specialised cells.
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord following the birth of a baby. It is rich in blood stem cells, similar to those found in bone marrow, and these can be used to treat many different cancers, immune deficiencies and genetic disorders and as can be seen even liver cirrhosis: While researching all of this I have already come across a number of private Cord Blood banks springing up here in the UK : This is the future happening now. I just hope that one day I’ll still be alive to see these research models come to fruition. All this sounds a little science fiction. While there are some who will argue about the ethical challenges that are bond to arise with this, I feel we already have this going on now with some cultures hiding behind religion in order to refuse to donate organs. I just hope that common sense will prevail.
Liver disease notably contributes to the global burden of disease and mortality. The past few years have witnessed an increase in liver-related mortality worldwide from 3% in 2000 to 3.5% in 2015. Liver transplantation is the only effective treatment available for end-stage liver disease. However, the use of liver transplantation is limited by high costs and a shortage of donors. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are self-renewing cells that can be obtained from a variety of tissues, such as bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, peripheral blood, the synovial membrane, and adipose tissue. In terms of clinical use, MSCs have several advantages over conventional therapeutic approaches, such as their ease of harvesting, multilineage differentiation potential, and powerful immunosuppressive effects. Therefore, MSCs have emerged as a promising candidate for novel cell-based therapies for liver disease.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells