Monday, June 25, 2012

The World’s 1st artificial trachea (Synthetic Organ)

It sounds like science fiction: Scientists harvest a man’s stem cells, build him an artificial organ, and save his life. But that’s exactly what happened to a young man who was suffering from advanced tracheal cancer. In June, Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene received the world’s first tissue-engineered synthetic trachea, thanks to doctors at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm who used technology developed by Harvard Bioscience. “He was given two weeks to live,” says David Green, the company’s president. Today “he’s alive and well.”

The trachea was created by seeding Beyene’s own stem cells onto a Y-shaped scaffold inside a bioreactor designed by the Holliston-based biotech. In just two days, the new trachea was ready. Because the organ was grown from Beyene’s own cells, his body is unlikely to reject it – a major risk for patients who receive donor tracheas from cadavers. In addition, he doesn’t need immunosuppressant drugs, which increase the chance of infection. (They also cost at least $10,000 a year and are taken for life.) Green says the technique may someday be suitable for all hollow, tubular organs, including blood vessels and the esophagus. And he hopes regeneration of more complex organs will follow.

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