According to research by Dr. Bin Gao and his laboratory, IL-22 promotes liver regeneration. It is achieved, among other mechanisms, through the proliferation of liver progenitor cells. The speaker announced that this observation, demonstrated in animal and transgenic models, has allowed developing the first clinical studies to test its possible application in humans.
There is some controversy about the beneficial effects of using IL-22 in promoting regeneration of the liver. Critics suggest that the proliferation of progenitor cells could increase the risk of liver cancer. Dr. Bin Gao acknowledged that the risk is real provided the treatment was chronic. He noted, however, that some diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis may benefit from a short treatment to stimulate regeneration.