The future of organ transplant?
Finding a way of offering patients an organ transplant without the need for either a donor or a long spell on painfully strong anti-rejection drugs has long been a goal for researchers and patients alike.
Indeed, the stories around their research have generally always been able to catch news headlines – and not just because of the huge amount of people they could benefit (110,000 people require a life saving organ transplant in the US, whilst only 10,000 or so actually receive them each year).
Now, often time the research itself proves of interest to the general public because of the need to overcome the incredibly taxing problems associated with growing organs outside a body.
One of the most striking images to emerge from the research was that of the mouse with a human ear growing from its back. The mouse was necessary because fo the scale and complexity of a human ear, which requires a continuous blood supply throughout its deep and complex cellular structure. Simple body tissues can be grown away from this host blood supply, as the nutrients and oxygen supply can pass through a few layers of cells to the deeper layers.
But in the case of larger organs, the sheer density of cells throughout the structure acts as a barrier, meaning that other methods must be used.
Transplant utilizes patients own stem cells
The new method for artificial organ growth for transplant utilizes the patients own stem cells, bone marrow and other tissue types to create an organ indistinguishable from the patients original organ. This means that there is no possibility of transplant rejection post operation, so costly and dangerous anti-rejection drugs can be eliminated from the post op prescription list. Also, it means that recovery times should be significantly reduced, as secondary infections, inflammation and other nasty byproducts of organ transplant will be reduced.
To read the BBC article in full, please visit here – Surgeons carry out first synthetic windpipe transplant