Vanessa Lupian’s metabolic condition forced her to have an extremely limited diet. She was born with maple syrup urine disease, which made it impossible for her body to break down proteins. Eating the wrong food would land her in the hospital with serious, sometimes life-threatening complications.
A liver transplant was essentially the only way to cure the disease, but the risks were very serious. Despite the potential complications, Vanessa was determined to go through with the procedure. After receiving a new liver, Vanessa is finally able to eat and enjoy the foods that the rest of her family were always able to eat.
Vanessa’s mother, Veronica, was ecstatic that the procedure was a success, but she also looks forward to a day when a less invasive procedure will be able to help children like Vanessa. Transplants can be risky, and the healing process can be very long. Additionally, most transplants require a lifetime of treatment to keep the body from rejecting the new liver.
Researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Davis are exploring stem cell therapy methods that could correct liver failure. Such therapies have the potential to eliminate the need for liver transplants. Some animal studies have been successful, and further studies are underway that are steps towards eventual use in humans, but more research is necessary before human trials can begin. To read the full article on the CIRM website, click here.