Surgeons carry out first synthetic windpipe transplant
BBC News – Surgeons carry out first synthetic windpipe transplant.
Surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world’s first synthetic organ transplant. Scientists in London created an artificial windpipe which was then coated in stem cells from the patient. Crucially, the technique does not need a donor, and there is no risk of the organ being rejected. The surgeons stress a windpipe can also be made within days. The 36-year-old cancer patient is doing well a month after the operation.
Scientists at University College London were able to craft a perfect copy of Mr Beyene’s trachea and two main bronchi out of glass. This was then flown to Sweden and soaked in a solution of stem cells taken from the patient’s bone marrow. After two days, the millions of holes in the porous windpipe had been seeded with the patient’s own tissue.
Dr Alex Seifalian and his team used this fragile structure to create a replacement for the patient, whose own windpipe was ravaged by an inoperable tumour. Despite aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the cancer had grown to the size of a golf ball and was blocking his breathing. Without a transplant he would have died.
During a 12-hour operation Professor Macchiarini removed all of the tumor and the diseased windpipe and replaced it with the tailor-made replica. Professor Macchiarini said this was the real breakthrough. “Thanks to nanotechnology, this new branch of regenerative medicine, we are now able to produce a custom-made windpipe within two days or one week. This is a synthetic windpipe. The beauty of this is you can have it immediately. There is no delay. This technique does not rely on a human donation.”
ChrisB – How did this story pass through the media so quietly? It should be huge news that stem cells grew a fully functioning organ that was successfully transplanted. I know stem cell research is a very touchy issue. However, it saved this man’s life and stem cells can now be harvested harmlessly from umbilical cords. After seeing this story, a month after the fact, I decided to see what other modern marvels will be able to replace human body parts. I discovered brain controlled limbs, new retinal and cochlear implants, and even replacement tongues capable of taste. It appears the world is on the precipice of a new way of doing things medically. The technology is getting to the point where we can integrate tissue and machine alike with the body. If an organ fails, grow another one. If a limb is lost, build a robotic one, and plug it into the brain. It will be truly fascinating to see where the next couple decades take us.