Alternatives for liver transplantation in severe liver disease are urgently needed in view of the limited availability of donor livers. The use of embryonic stem cells (ES) or hepatic progenitor cells (HPC) has been investigated in mice models of acute and chronic liver failure. To extrapolate the findings in inbred mouse strains (weighing around 20 g, with a maximal lifespan of 3 years) to the genetically more variable human beings (around 3,000-fold heavier and living 30 times longer), does seem a bit of a large step. This article describes recent developments in HPC research in dogs and compares these findings to experimental rodent studies and human pathology. Recent progress in canine liver stem cell research and canine genetics are combined to exemplify their possible role as a relevant animal model for the feasibility of stem cell transplantation in human liver failure.
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