Scientists Create Human Lung in Lab for First Time
Galveston, TX - For the first time, scientists have created human lungs in a lab -- an exciting step forward in regenerative medicine, but an advance that likely won't help patients for many years.
"It's so darn cool," said Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch. "It's been science fiction and we're moving into science fact."
If the lungs work -- and that's a big if -- they could help the more than 1,600 people awaiting a lung transplant. Lungs are one of many body parts being manufactured in the lab -- some parts, such as tracheas and livers, are even further along.
"Whole-organ engineering is going to work as a solution to the organ donor shortage," said Dr. Stephen Badylak, deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.
The researchers in Galveston, Texas, started with lungs from two children who'd died from trauma, most likely a car accident, Nichols said. Their lungs were too damaged to be used for transplantation, but they did have some healthy tissue.
They took one of the lungs and stripped away nearly everything, leaving a scaffolding of collagen and elastin.
The scientists then took cells from the other lung and put them on the scaffolding. They immersed the structure in a large chamber filled with a liquid "resembling Kool-Aid," Nichols said, which provided nutrients for the cells to grow. After about four weeks, an engineered human lung emerged. Continue>
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