By studying a rare liver disease called Alagille syndrome, scientists from Cincinnati Children’s and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have discovered the mechanism behind an unusual form of tissue regeneration that may someday reduce the need for expensive and difficult-to-obtain organ transplants.

The team’s findings, published in the journal Nature, show that when disease or injury causes a shortage in one critical type of liver cell, the organ can instruct another type of liver cell to change identities to provide replacement supplies.

This discovery was made in mice but in years to come may lead to a viable treatment for human disease.

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