The same methodology used to produce
The remarkable “heart in a jar”
Has created a trachea, almost from scratch,
And it looks like it’s working, so far!
The organ was made from the stem cells extracted
From marrow they drew from her hip,
And a collagen shell from a donor cadaver
Whose windpipe was one they could snip.
The trachea, treated with antibiotics
And stripped of its cellular coat
Was a scaffold to seed with her stem cells, to grow
A replacement for part of her throat!
So far it appears her recovery’s perfect,
The part’s recognized as her own;
What remarkable news! No concern of rejection—
It matches… because it’s home-grown!
Wow! This is just so incredibly cool! NPR’s “All Things Considered” reports on a trachea transplant success story with a twist–the new trachea was constructed using the recipient’s own stem cells!
Doctors in Spain have implanted a new windpipe into a woman whose airway was badly damaged by tuberculosis.
The pioneering operation used a section of windpipe engineered in a laboratory with adult human stem cells, according to Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, of the Barcelona’s University Hospital Clinic.
The stem cells were extracted from her bone marrow, cultured, and treated with chemicals to induce them to develop into cartilage, fat, and other tissues.
As the cells were growing in England, scientists began work on an even more crucial step — fashioning a kind of scaffolding out of tissue on which the new cells could grow.
They started with a trachea — a portion of the windpipe — taken from a 51-year-old man who had recently died.
The donor’s trachea was rinsed with antibiotics and most of the cells were removed with various detergents and enzymes, a process that took several weeks.
What was left was the shell of the trachea, essentially made up of fibrous collagen.
Yup, pretty much the same process as the heart-in-a-jar.
Over a period of four days, they applied nutrients and chemicals to promote the growth of new layers of tissues, which were composed of the same kinds of cells normally found in the trachea.
The airway was kept in a special container and rotated continuously to ensure even growth.
On June 18, Castillo underwent surgery in Barcelona to have a portion of her airway removed — specifically, the left bronchus.
Surgeons took the newly created windpipe and trimmed it to the proper size and fit it into place near the point where the trachea divides to supply both lungs.
The operation was in June, the report is out in today’s issue of The Lancet. So far, all is going well, without the need for anti-rejection drugs, because the body is recognizing that these are her own cells! That’s her picture at the top of the post–I bet it wasn’t hard coaxing a smile!