Medical science is becoming more and more advanced, seems like it’s not going to take too long before doctors can grow new organs on demand from patients own cells. Yes, today millions of patients have to wait for years when it comes to organ transplant, as the waiting list is long and even if you are lucky to get a donor your body might reject the foreign object. But like we said the latest development by scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) have managed to transplant bioengineered lungs into pigs, with no complications arising from the procedure.
Now you will not need for another person to offer a spare organ, in the future you as a patient can easily have any organ required for transplant by either growing it or 3D printing it from your own cells. There have been huge strides made in the field especially related to bioengineering muscle, blood vessels, kidneys, bone marrow and skin.
The UTMB scientist has successfully implanted an entire lung into pics grown from their own cells. The whole process starts with lung taken out from another animal is bathed with a solution designed to clean out all the blood and living cells. After this what remains is “scaffold” of proteins in the shape of the lung.
Later the researchers remove a lung from each test pig and collect cells from them. The scaffold is bathed in a tank full of a nutrient medium and the animals lung cells are added. These cells spread across the scaffold over the next 30 days. Later it transforms into a brand new lung ready for transplantation.
The scientist monitored the pigs to know how the new organ was functioning. The pigs were kept in different groups and examined at different intervals like 10 hours, two weeks, one month and two months after the surgery. Reports suggested all the pigs were healthy for the entire period of time. The researchers also noticed that the lungs were able to grow the required blood vessel network by the two-week mark.
Joan Nichols and Joaquin Cortiella, lead researchers on the study said – “We saw no signs of pulmonary edema, which is usually a sign of the vasculature not being mature enough. The bioengineered lungs continued to develop post-transplant without any infusions of growth factors, the body provided all of the building blocks that the new lungs needed.”
The studies conducted were focussed on how well the bioengineered lungs would survive and grow in the host. This tests did not involve tests on how well the organ provides oxygen to the animal. But the researches have promised in the future studies will include this metric in the experiment. If everything goes according to plans, the day is not far when the process could be used for human implants, perhaps within five to 10 years.
The research article was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.