Throat In A Jar?

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!

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Valentine’s Day Is Almost Here!

Only a few more days until it will be too late to pretend you did anything other than panic at the last minute and elbow three other people out of the way to get the last remaining Hallmark Valentine–the one with a family-friendly cute double-entendre featuring a cartoon dog and the fingerprints of the thousand previous shoppers who decided against purchasing it.

So as a public service, I am offering a few more Heart-In-A-Jar poems, for those people who are not content to give their hearts away only as a figure of speech. If I had the skill, I would mock up some cards for you to print out, but that is not what this cuttlefish knows how to do with ink. So, the next best thing. I am giving anyone the permission to use these poems as they wish–they can even take credit for them, so long as A) they know they are lying and B) they send me a line or so about how it went. If you actually put in the effort to create an illustrated card, then A) good on you! and B) send me a line or a link or whatever so I can see it too!

The previous three heart-in-a-jar poems (and the original news story that explains them) were posted here. And of course, if your fancy is bred not in the heart but in the head, here is a brain-based love poem you can also use.

So, have fun!

I give you my heart on this Valentine’s Day
In a jar you can keep on your shelf,
With your books and your papers, in cluttered array,
Or a prominent place by itself.
It is really my heart—deep within every cell
Are the strands of my own DNA;
I could have just given you chocolates, but, well,
My message is clearer this way:
I love you much more than a card, or some flowers,
Or trinkets you see in the stores;
So it’s off to the lab for a few hundred hours,
And my heart—if you’ll take it—is yours.

My love for you was different from the start;
A love like this, the world has never seen–
Not only will I offer you my heart,
But also kidneys, pancreas, and spleen.
You need a thyroid gland? Just say the word.
Quite gladly I’d deliver you my liver;
In giving and receiving, I have heard,
It’s always best to choose to be the giver.
I’d surely die for you, but better still,
I’d much prefer to live with you, in love;
To share your world with you would be my will
And not to gaze down on you from above.
I offer you my heart, but be aware:
You’ll have to wait until I grow a spare.

I gave you my heart, as a sign of my love
And I thought that you’d keep it from harm.
But you put it to work, in a flask in your lab
And I find, to my growing alarm,
That you’re growing another, and more after that,
In a regular cardiac farm!
But then, when I saw them, in sterilized jars
Neatly ordered, in columns and rows,
I thought that, perhaps for the first time in history
Anyone looking now knows
And can see, with the placement of every new heart,
How much greater my love for you grows.

Matters Of The Heart (… in a jar)

It’s all over the news–researchers at the University of Minnesota have “created a beating heart in the laboratory“. Basically, they used the protein fiber matrix from one heart, stripped of muscle cells, as a scaffold upon which to grow a new heart, using a solution of cells from another rat. Yeah. I know, all this talk about hearts is so romantic. So, in a bit of a reversal from my previous position, I return to the romantic view of the heart as the foundation of love, with a trio of little verses inspired by the heart in the jar. I can see it now… the picture above, on the front of the Hallmark card, with one of the following verses inside…

I’m new at this game,

And I don’t know your name,

But I love you, whoever you are;

My heart may be true

But it’s also brand new

I grew it myself, in a jar!

I can feel my heart grow,

So I love you, you know, 

And not like a cousin or brother;

I will give you my heart–

Every bit, every part;

If you break it, I’ll grow me another.

My heart is yours; it’s in a jar
That sits upon your shelf;
It’s happy being where you are
And not all by itself.
You asked me for a souvenir
To keep while we’re apart;
I thought a bit, and it was clear—
It had to be my heart.
And now, although my heart may soar,
It is no longer mine;
A message that forevermore
I’ll be your valentine.

A rat cadaver’s donor heart
Is stripped of every cell
The protein fiber matrix left
Looks like a ghostly shell;
This matrix, in a sterile flask,
Is bathed in rat-heart goo
With both adult and baby cells,
And starts to grow anew.
In only days, the growing heart
May beat, or merely twitch,
Then work, at roughly two percent…

Like yours, you heartless bitch.