Leading science, pioneering therapies

Liver stem cells and regeneration

Our research concentrates on understanding how the liver regenerates in chronic disease and how this process becomes deranged in the development of liver cancer.

Stuart Forbes

Group leader
Director CRM, Professor of Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine; Consultant Hepatologist Scottish Liver Transplant Unit
0131 651 9510 (PA)
Aims and areas of interest

By understanding what controls liver regeneration in chronic injury our group aims to be able to promote healthy liver regeneration and reduce the formation of liver cirrhosis and cancer. There are 3 linked programs of research:

  1. Basic biology of the hepatic progenitor cell niche. 
  2. Cell therapy for liver regeneration. 
  3. The Liver Cancer niche in cholangiocarcinoma
More information

Liver disease is the 5th commonest cause of death in the UK and the deaths from cirrhosis are rapidly rising. Currently the only curative option for end-stage liver disease is liver transplantation. Donor organ availability cannot even meet current demand and many patients die whilst waiting for a suitable organ. Alternative therapeutic strategies are urgently required for the treatment of advanced liver disease.

The normal liver regenerates through division of mature hepatocytes. However, in chronic liver injury this capacity is lost. Fortunately we have a second tier of cells that can regenerate the liver- the Hepatic Progenitor Cells (HPCs or oval cells). These bipotential progenitor cells can give rise to both hepatocytes and biliary epithelium but may also be a potential source of liver cancer.

Related activities

Prof Stuart Forbes is also a member of the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh and the NHS Scottish Liver Transplant Unit.