University of Technology, Compiegne, France

Building an external (bio)artificial liver : multi-scale and biomechanical considerations

CV: Dr Cécile Legallais is Head of the CNRS/University of technology of Compiègne (FR) joint laboratory “Biomechanics & Bioengineering”. She coordinates research on “Bioartifical liver”. Her group possesses a large experience on hepatic cells culture (cell lines, primary from human or animal origin) on different 3D scaffolds perfused or not. The multidisciplinary nature of her work reveals her expertise in biomedical engineering and tissue engineering for the design of bio-artificial organs, fluid mechanics and microfluidics, transport phenomena, and the interactions between cells and tissues with biomaterials.  Bronze Medal of CNRS in 2003, she published more than 100 papers in peer reviewed journals. She has supervised 25 PhD thesis. She is Past-President of the European Society of Artificial Organs.

Abstract: For patients with acute liver failure, the gold standard treatment, i.e. transplantation, suffers from a huge organs’ shortage. Liver assist devices are either purely artificial (replacing functions) or bioartificial (in an integrated structure/function approach). For the liver, the challenge is very high since this organ is in charge of more than 500 functions in a healthy organism, coming from the presence of several cell types with a complex 3D organisation.

After a review of artificial extracorporeal systems, we will present several approaches currently under investigation in liver tissue engineering at the organ scale or at the tissue scale.

In these reconstruction attempts, biomechanics should not be forgotten: indeed, liver is a highly perfused organ with both venous and arterial blood, with a significant influence of local pressure and oxygen content on cell activities. In addition, this organ is very soft and most of its related diseases results in an alteration of its mechanical properties.

We will summarize how several bioinspired approaches at different scales to offer to the cells the “best” biomechanical environment. This means that both artificial matrix and bioreactor can be designed to meet the physiological conditions encountered in the native liver.