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Professor Stuart Forbes
Professor of Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine; Associate Director; Theme leader Liver Stem Cell Biology and Tissue Repair; Consultant Hepatologist Scottish Liver Transplant Unit
Type of staff member: Associated Principal Investigator
Research Theme: Tissue Remodelling and Regeneration
Research Programme(s): Tissue Remodelling, Tissue Regeneration, Inflammation and Cancer
Research Group(s): Tissue regeneration, ES cell models
Qualifications: MB ChB, BSc (Hons) University of Edinburgh 1986-92 PhD, Imperial College London 2000 FRCP (Edin), Royal College of Physician of Edinburgh 2009
Alison MacKinnon (Post Doc)
Alison MacKinnon (Post Doc)
Atsunori Tsuchiya (Visiting Post Doc)
Robert Walker (Research Technician)
Ben Stutchfield (Clinical PhD Student)
Davina Wojtacha (Research Technician)
Luke Boulter (Post Doc)
Mike Williams (Clinical PhD Student)
Rachel Guest (Clinical PhD Student)
Sarah Minnis-Lyons (Clinical PhD Student)
Tom Bird (Lecturer)
Wei-Yu Lu (PhD Student)
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.
Image shows liver progenitor cells (red) in their niche (green). Image credit Dr Luke Boulter.
Approaches and progress
Our program of research concentrates on understanding how the Hepatic Progenitor Cells regenerate the liver in chronic disease and how this process becomes deranged in the development of liver cancer. By understanding what controls this process we aim to be able to promote healthy liver regeneration and reduce the formation of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
We are also developing pre-clinical and clinical tools to stimulate liver regeneration and reduce scarring using cell therapy. In particular we have found that bone marrow derived macrophages can promote liver regneration and reduce scarring and this is being developed as a clinical therapy (funded by the Medical Research Council). We have a clinical research program of “stem cell therapy for cirrhosis” funded by the Jules Thorn Trust and Scottish Enterprise.
Image shows liver cells (red with nuclei in blue) in the early damaged liver with liver stem cells in green migrating to the damaged areas. In the healthy liver, the liver stem cells are only found surrounding the bile ducts close to the blood vessels (black area, on right with some red blood cells in orange). Image credit Dr Luke Boulter.
Sources of Funding Held Within CIR:
Principal Grant Holder:
Grant Coapplicants:Grant value: £3,600,000
Medical Research Council BMC MAC (MR/M007588/1)
Principal Grant Holder:Grant value: £1,957,180
Medical Research Council
This page was last modified on 24 August, 2015