The liver is essential for our body

The liver (Greek: 'hepar') supports almost every organ in the body and is necessary for survival. It is both the largest internal organ (the skin being the largest organ overall) and the largest gland in the human body. Our liver has more than 500 different functions.

  • All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down the nutrients and drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body. These functions are strictly controlled by signaling cascades that regulate these processes.
  • Because of its strategic location and multidimensional functions, the liver is prone to many diseases constituting a serious problem world-wide. The liver plays a major role in metabolism (synthesis and breakdown of small and complex molecules, many of which are necessary for normal vital functions).
  • More than 5 million people in Germany suffer from diseases of the liver. Even more patients with liver diseases are diagnosed in the U.S. (approx. 45 million corresponding to 15 % of the population, according to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases). The liver has a remarkable capacity to regenerate after an injury, establishing interesting approaches for therapies. However, in order to be able to heal liver diseases, we need a better understanding of this organ.
  • The Virtual Liver Network is tackling this challenge. Our approach follows a concerted strategy unique in the scientific world and represents an effort to understand and to model a complete organ from the biochemical, cellular, to the whole organ level.
  • Author: Martin Golebiewski
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