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Human skin precursor-derived hepatic cells for drug safety and liver disease applications

The liver regulates numerous physiological processes essential for human health, such as lipid and cholesterol homeostasis and the breakdown of xenobiotic compounds including pharmaceuticals. As such, any alterations in liver cell biology provoked by genetic factors, exposure to pathogens or xenobiotics, or even due to an unhealthy lifestyle, can have serious health consequences that significantly contribute to global morbidity and mortality burdens. This drives the need to understand the breadth of liver pathologies, both inherited (through genetic factors) or induced (in response to toxicants or unhealthy lifestyle) to uncover how to avoid or treat them. This goal requires the implementation of innovative preclinical models that allow more accurate predictive investigations of human liver cell biology, pathology and toxicity.


In answer to this need, the research team IVTD, builds on more than 30 years of experience in the development of in vitro liver models for pharmaco-toxicological and liver disease modelling purposes. IVTD’s proprietary hSKP-HPC (or HepaSTAR) model, is a novel in vitro model derived from human, post-natal skin stem cells proven in mechanistic investigations of chronic and acute liver injury caused by either drugs, chemicals or by disease. 

HepaSTARs can be applied to:

  • Hepatotoxicity screening and drug-induced liver injury (DILI) prediction
  • In vitro non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) modelling and drug target discovery
  • Interdisciplinary development of 3D/dynamic culture systems towards lab-on-chip applications

Patent details

Patented hepatogenic differentiation protocol (EP 1824965, 2011)

IVTD figure

HepaSTARs Cell image
High-throughput compatible HepaSTARs detect steatosis in drug (DILI) or metabolically induced models (NAFLD/NASH). Image shows lipid accumulation (green) following 24h Insulin triggering for assessing insulin driven de novo lipogenesis in 384-well format.

Competitive advantages

hSKP-HPC versus current alternative hepatic cell models

IVTD schema



Hugo Loosvelt
IP & Licensing Manager