Sunday, July 10, 2011
Lab-made organ implanted for first time
For the first time, a patient has received a synthetic windpipe that was created in a lab with the patient's own stem cells and without using human donor tissue, researchers said Thursday. Previous lab-generated transplants either used a segment of donor windpipe or involved tissue only, not an organ.
In a laboratory in London, scientists created a trachea, which is a tube-like airway that connects at the voice box and branches into both lungs.
On June 9, doctors implanted this synthetic windpipe into a 36-year-old man with late-stage tracheal cancer at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. The patient is doing well and is expected to be released from the hospital Friday, said Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, professor of regenerative medicine there. Tracheal cancers are extremely rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cancers.
After the patient's initial diagnosis in 2008, he had exhausted every treatment available, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, Macchiarini said. The patient, an Eritrean who had been studying in Iceland, is the subject of a BBC documentary airing Thursday in Sweden.
His tumor had almost blocked his windpipe, doctors said. Rather than waiting for a transplant, his doctors suggested growing an organ. Scientists created a Y-shaped framework for the new trachea, modeling it after the specific shape of the patient's windpipe. The form was made of polymers that had a spongy and flexible texture. Stiff rings around the tube mimicked the structure of a human trachea.