Bioengineered Lung Successfuly Transplanted

Modesto Morganelli
Agosto 5, 2018

For the first time, a team of United States scientists was able to grow a lung, along with working blood vessels, and then keep it breathing inside a pig.

All in all, a lung transplant operation is a tedious, complicated job that does not come with guaranteed success. The pig's lung was not rejected, and previous problems with other versions of bioengineered lungs have not occurred with this one.

On Wednesday, researchers from University of Texas Medical Branch published a new paper in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

They then created a cocktail of nutrients and lung cells from the pig which was to receive the transplant, and placed it in a tank with the organ skeleton.

The researchers hope that bioengineered lung transplants will be feasible in humans within a decade.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant. The bioengineered lungs were grown in a bioreactor for 30 days prior to transplantation. Imagine hospitals growing replacement organs for humans in the future.

Joan Nichols, associate director of the Galveston National Laboratory at UTMB, added, "Our ultimate goal is to eventually provide new options for the many people awaiting a transplant". It still uses a donor lung at its core, but due to a stem cell fueled regenerative process established by the researchers, the number of lungs that could be used for transplant should no longer be as limited. The medical condition of the animals was assessed at ten hours, two weeks, one month, and two months following the operation, which allowed the team to construct a timeline of the lung tissue's development.

In order to produce a bio-engineered lung, a support scaffold is needed that meets structural needs of a lung.

"We saw no signs of pulmonary edema, which is usually a sign of the vasculature not being mature enough", the researchers wrote. However, the newly published study reveals successful bioengineered lung transplantation into adult pigs, highlighting how much progress has been made in only a few years. However, even the two-month-old transplanted lung, while not showing any fluid collection that would indicate an underdeveloped organ, had not developed enough to independently supply the animal with oxygen.

"We do know that the animals had 100 percent oxygen saturation, as they had one normal functioning lung", said Cortiella.

The research took 15 years to complete with countless failed attempts, but the breakthrough could solve the organ donor crisis.

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