Cloning a Trachea
In the news there is a story about a man from Eritrea going to school in Iceland recovering from surgery in Sweden where a surgeon born in Italy recently gave him a new trachea grown in a bioreactor from the United States composed of synthetic scaffold designed in the United Kingdom and the man's own stem cells! The world is certainly getting smaller and the smaller it gets the more specialists like surgeon Paolo Macchiarini and others can collaborate to make stories like this possible. I'm posting this because it's a relevant update to a blog entry I made recently on Cloning.
NPR has a great podcast on this story where they cover the more human side of the science (see here). You might also be interested in earlier advances in cloning organs that go back to 1999 in cloning bladders: first, in dogs, now humans.
This cloning case is unique because until now, all trachea transplants involved using cadaver trachea as the "core" scaffold to grow stem cells around. So far there have been a handful of successful organs cloned in the same manner as this trachea. The technique basically starts with a synthetic material which serves as a scaffold for new cells to grow on. In the case of children where the organ will need to grow with the child, a biodegradable material is chosen for the scaffolding. Such
There are two main advantages for such a transplant
- No wait for organ donors to become available.
- No anti-rejection drugs needed.
Whether or not this kind of procedure can illuminate the need for all organ donors is yet to be seen.
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