It is well known that the liver has the ability to regenerate. Liver resection (surgical removal of the diseased part of the liver) for the treatment of liver cancer has been carried out for a few decades, but many tumors are inoperable, notably because the removal of a too large piece of liver is fatal.
The Wyss Zurich project will develop a novel therapeutic strategy for liver regeneration consisting of: i) surgical resection of a small healthy piece of the liver from the patient; ii) growth of this piece outside of the body in a perfusion machine until a sufficient size is reached; iii) retransplantation of the regenerated liver to the original patient while removing the remaining diseased part. Current perfusion systems are not able to keep a liver alive outside of the body for a sufficient time to allow growth and regeneration to occur. The challenging aim of the project is to extend the viability of liver tissue outside of the body up to five days and allow its growth. To this end, a perfusion machine will be developed, which will provide necessary nutrients and oxygen supply, and be equipped to monitor growth, as well as assess the functional capacity of the liver.
This technological advance will allow patients with formerly inoperable liver cancers to gain access to surgical resection. Additionally, performing autologous transplantation (patient receives liver tissue from his own body) will avoid the need for life-long immunosuppression and its associated severe side effects. This novel regeneration strategy could also be used in allogenic liver transplantation (patient receives liver tissue from a donor) for end-stage chronic liver disease, where an organ transplant is the only treatment option. In this second approach, a healthy donor liver will be split into a couple of parts that will be grown in the perfusion machine, yielding more than one transplantable organ. With this approach, the organ donor pool would be increased, which would help to alleviate current donor organ shortage.
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Max L. Hefti
Max Hefti works on the development of the perfusion system for the extracorporeal liver. Before joining the project in December 2016, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow on the development and optimization of adsorption processes. For his work in the same field, he received his doctoral degree from ETH Zurich in 2016. He holds a Master in Bio- and Chemical Engineering at ETH Zurich and was a visiting scholar at Columbia University in NYC, USA.
Matteo Müller joined the Liver4Life team in January 2019. After completing his medical degree in Zurich, he started a surgical residency in the Department of General and Vascular Surgery at the Cantonal Hospital Baden. To continue his surgical career, he joined the Department of Surgery and Transplantation at the University Hospital Zurich in July 2017 under the supervision of Prof. Clavien. Matteo’s clinical interest is mainly liver surgery and transplantation. He will support the Liver4Life team in their surgical activities as well as study liver regeneration during ex-vivo liver perfusion.
João Miguel Antunes Crisóstomo
Quality & Regulatory Affairs Expert
João Miguel Antunes Crisóstomo joined Wyss Zurich in March 2021 as Quality & Regulatory Affairs Expert for Liver4Life. He holds a Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Coimbra University in Portugal. Within the last five years, he gathered experience in diverse healthcare fields, from Pharmaceutical to Medical Device Industries, at start-up and corporate level. He specialized in Quality Management and Regulatory Affairs, where he holds expertise at creation, implementation and management of Quality Systems according to ISO 13485, Regulatory strategies following FDA/510k and CE-marking/MDR, and Design Controls under ISO 14971 and IEC 62304. As the Quality & Regulatory Affairs Expert at Liver4Life project, he will drive the product compliance and regulatory preparation for the Clinical Trial.
+41 44 632 45 06
Lucia Bautista joined the Liver4Life team in September 2016 to support the biomedical research activities of the project. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Molecular Health Sciences at ETH Zurich, she gained extensive research experience in the field of liver metabolism and physiology. She holds a PhD in biology from the University of Seville (Spain), focused in gene regulation by hypoxia. Lucia will contribute to the Liver4Life project with her strong expertise in molecular and cell biology, with emphasis on liver metabolism, animal experimentation and biochemistry.
Jonas Binz joined Wyss Zurich in September 2021 as Engineer for Liver4Life. He holds a Master’s degree in Robotics, System and Control from ETH Zürich. At Liver4Life he is responsible for the development of the device software and maintenance of the hardware. During his studies, Jonas worked on different projects including embedded software and control system design.
+41 44 632 24 92
Leslie Cunningham completed her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and Technology and master’s degree in Medical Technology at ETH Zürich. During her master’s thesis project in the Lewis Lab at Harvard University, she focused on modelling the proximal tubule of the nephron with organoid-derived cells. In her research internship in the macromolecular engineering lab at ETH, she worked on the encapsulation of single cells in micro-patterned hydrogel niches to analyse geometry-induced changes in contractile forces using molecular tension sensors. She then joined the biotech startup Rejuveron and worked on developing a blood brain barrier model for in vitro drug screening. In December 2021 she started her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Tibbitt in collaboration with Liver4Life. Her research focuses on the regeneration of ex-vivo perfused livers. She supports Liver4Life during perfusions and investigates ex-vivo liver therapeutics.
Dilmurodjon Eshmuminov is a surgeon in training at the University Hospital Zurich. He was awarded a Swiss government scholarship to carry out research on liver surgery at the University of Zurich from 2009 to 2011. Subsequently he continued his clinical training as a surgical trainee at the department of Visceral Surgery and Transplantation of the University Hospital Zurich. His clinical and research activities are focused mainly on liver surgery and transplantation. His medical knowledge will add great value to the team.
Florian Huwyler studied mechanical engineering at ETH Zürich and Imperial College London and finished with a Master’s degree from ETH. He conducted his Bachelor Thesis already at Liver4Life investigating ex-vivo liver perfusion by thermal imaging. Later on, he joined Prof. James Moore’s Lab at Imperial College London where he gained experience in microfluidics. Back in Switzerland, he joined Prof. Bradley Nelson’s lab at ETH and developed microrobots as a treatment for spinal chord injuries. Afterwards, he finished his master thesis in the macromolecular engineering lab developing a platform to further investigate mechanobiology of stem cells. Finally, he joined Liver4Life in spring 2021 and is currently pursuing a PhD at ETH Zürich under the supervision of Prof. Tibbitt, in close collaboration with Liver4Life. His research is mainly focused on liver regeneration and ex-vivo liver perfusion. With his engineering and biomedical experience, he supports Liver4Life during perfusions and contributes to ongoing liver regeneration research.
Leandro Mancina joined Wyss Zurich in August 2020 as Research Assistant for Liver4Life. He runs biochemical and molecular biology assays, assists in animal surgeries and perfusion experiments and is responsible for the maintenance of the molecular biology laboratory. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology from Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Wädenswil (ZHAW). During his studies from 2016-2020 Leandro was working part-time for the project and acquired in combination with the ZHAW extensive knowledge and developed valuable skills that he can now apply in his current position in the Liver4Life project at Wyss Zurich.
+41 44 255 34 07
Richard Xavier Sousa Da Silva
Clinical Affairs Leader
Richard Xavier Sousa Da Silva joined the Liver4Life team in February 2021. He completed his medical degree in Basel, and started his surgical residency in the Department of General Surgery at the Cantonal Hospital Aarau. Thereafter he went to the Cantonal Hospital Uri. Continuing his surgical career and achieving the title of specialist for surgery, he joined the Department of Visceral and Transplantation Surgery at the University Hospital Zurich in October 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Clavien. Richard’s clinical interest is mainly liver surgery, transplantation and robotic surgery. He will support the Liver4Life team by focusing on liver regeneration during ex-vivo liver perfusion.
Írisz Tóth joined the Liver4Life team as Quality Engineer in January 2022. She holds a MSc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Budapest University of Technology and Economics and has 4 years healthcare industry experience. After completing her studies, she began her professional career as Requirement Manager at B.Braun Melsungen AG, Germany and continued at Acutronic Medical Systems AG, Switzerland. She has expertise in development of embedded systems as well as in implementation of quality systems according to ISO 13485 and software design control under ISO 14971 and IEC 62304. As Quality Engineer at Liver4Life project, she will provide support to ensure QMS compliance with the appropriate internal and external regulatory requirements and will be responsible to identify and address quality gaps in the design process.