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NEWS
Virginia Tech Team Studies Liver Mimics
October 11, 2009

Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers will use more than $1 million in grant funding to study engineered tissues that mimic the liver, one of the human body’s most complex organs.

Padma Rajagopalan, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is designing liver mimics that eventually could form the basis for extracorporeal liver-assist devices. She is the principal investigator on three recent federal grants totaling $1,087,091 related to liver tissue engineering.

The liver plays a major role in the body’s defense mechanisms and performs a multitude of functions including metabolism and detoxification. The deterioration in any one of the liver’s functions can cause life-threatening health problems or death. Liver transplants are extremely expensive, may not be appropriate for patients at a high risk for surgery, or may simply not be possible due to a lack of suitable donors.

The primary research goal of these projects is to assemble 3-D cellular structures that mimic the liver using the major cell types found in the liver. Prof. Rajagopalan and her collaborators hope that designing liver mimics and studying them at the molecular and cellular levels will bring about a much improved understanding of the organ’s structure, and thereafter, lead to potential breakthroughs in the design of tissue engineered livers.


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