Another step in the fusion of the made & the born: Surgeons in Sweden have successfully transplanted a fully synthetic, tissue-engineered organ – a trachea– into a man with late-stage tracheal cancer.
The synthetic trachea was grown in a bioreactor, using a scaffold built out of a porous polymer, and tissue grown from the patient's own stem cells. The surgery was performed last month by Paolo Macchiarini at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Stockholm. The patient has now made a full recovery and has been discharged from the hospital.
The transplant of the lab grown organ is a significant moment for regenerative medicine, although a trachea is much simpler than a lung, kidney or a heart, which are still far more challenging for the scientists.
Lab grown organs are expected to be superior to ordinary donor organs in several ways. They can be made to order more quickly than a donor organ can often be found; being grown from a patient's own cells, they also do not require dangerous immunosuppressant drugs to prevent rejection.