First Synthetic Organ Transplant Used to Treat Cancer Pateint

An African student living Iceland has been the first to receive a transplanted organ grown entirely from his own cells. In this case, the patient’s trachea was ravaged by throat cancer, requiring a replacement. Instead of wading through the tedious donor process, doctors opted instead to grow the organ from the patient’s stem cells. The new organ was grown in a mere two days.

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Professor Paolo Macchiarini lead the operation and the design of the new trachea. To create the organ, Macchiarini and his team used a y-shaped scaffold of nanocomposite polymer. Stem cells were placed on the structure which eventually grew into an entire trachea, ready for transplant. As we’ve written about before, stem cells have the remarkable ability to transform themselves into nearly any body cell.

Though this is not the first time a trachea has been grown for transplant, it is the first to not require a donor trachea to grow the replacement. This could bring hope for patients waiting to receive transplant organs, especially children for whom donor organs, particularly tracheas, are scarce. It also means that patients would have no risk of the replacement organ being rejected by their body, since it is comprised from their own cells.

The Guardian reports that the trachea recipient has already been discharged from the hospital and is resting at home. A sure sign of a successful surgery. Hopefully this groundbreaking surgery will speed the way for such procedures to become more common in the near future.

(Guardian via Atlantic Wire, human stem cell image via Wiki)


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