Last month, the first ever lab-made trachea was transplanted into a 36-year-old Eritrean man with late-stage tracheal cancer. The transplant took place at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.
The trachea is a component of the respiratory system. It connects the larynx (voice box) to the lungs.
In previous procedures, donor tissue was needed in addition to stem cells in order to transplant and organ like the trachea. The problem with relying on donor tissue is that it could take months or even years before the tissue becomes available.
The lab-made trachea only took 10 to 12 days, which is ideal for patients in desperate need of an organ transplant.
The Eritrean man who received the lab-made trachea was a student studying abroad in Iceland. He was diagnosed with the very rare tracheal cancer in 2008. The cancer was so advanced that it blocked the opening in his trachea making it difficult for him to breathe.
This artificial organ was bathed in the patient’s own stem cells, which grew to cover the entire artificial structure, both inside and out. Stem cells are naïve cells that can grow to become almost any cell-type, including those in organs.
The patient received the artificial organ well and is now recovering.
Regenerative medicine is very likely to be the wave of the future, however many critics believe that it could also lead to human cloning.
Photo Credit: topnews.in