Pharma Tips

Lab-Grown Organ Transplant a Success

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 1348 | Date: 26-Jul-2011

SURGEONS have carried out the world’s first successful transplant of a lab-grown organ – a synthetic windpipe ‘scaffold’ seeded with stem cells.

Cancer patient gets artificial trachea


SURGEONS have carried out the world’s first successful transplant of a lab-grown organ – a synthetic windpipe ‘scaffold’ seeded with stem cells.


Its recipient was a 36-year old late stage tracheal cancer patient who, despite radiation treatment, had a 6 cm tumor on the verge of blocking his airways. In dire need of a transplant but unable to find a suitable donor organ, doctors decided that they only option left open was to make their own.

An international team of experts performed the operation at the Swedish Karolinska University Hospital early last month. A spokesperson for the hospital said that the patient is “well on his way to a full recovery” and set to be discharged sometime today.
The artificial trachea was developed by Alexander Seifalian, a professor at the UK’s University College London, while the actual procedure was led by a professor from Karolinska, Paolo Macchiarini.

Seifalian said that Macchiarini had performed successful transplants of engineered tracheas before, but on those occasions the organs used were taken from donors and then reseeded with the patient’s own stem cells.
“What makes this procedure different,” he continued, “is it’s the first time that a wholly tissue engineered synthetic windpipe has been made and successfully transplanted.”

The trachea scaffold was made from a novel nanocomposite polymer, using a scan of the patient’s own windpipe as a guide. When it had been made, the patient’s own stem cells were ‘seeded’ onto it so that the full organ could be grown in a bioreactor designed and supplied by the US-based Harvard Bioscience.

Because the cells used originally came from the patient himself, there was no risk of the transplant being rejected by his body. According to the hospital, he hasn’t even had to take any immunosuppressive medication.

There are other benefits that could come from tissue engineered organs becoming commonplace for transplants. Patients wouldn’t have to wait for a suitable donor, potentially allowing them to have surgery much earlier. Children, in particular, would benefit, as the availability of donor tracheas suitable for them is much lower than it is for adults.

“The successful transplantation of tissue engineered synthetic organs, referred to as regenerative medicine, could open new and very promising therapeutic possibilities for the thousands of patients who suffer from tracheal cancer or other conditions that destroy, block or constrict the airway,” said a Karolinska spokesperson.


 

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