First ever transplant of organ grown in laboratory

A 36-year-old man is recovering after surgeons implanted the world's first wholly lab-grown organ into his body.

The synthetic trachea, or windpipe, was created by seeding the patient's own stem cells on to an artificial "scaffold". British scientists helped design and build the structure, an exact replica of the man's original windpipe.

Windpipes have been grown from stem cells before, but only using the collagen "skeletons" of donated tracheas. Using an entirely synthetic scaffold means patients do not have to wait for a suitable donor organ.

This is especially important for children, for whom donor tracheas are much more difficult to find.

The patient, an African student living in Iceland, had been suffering from life-threatening tracheal cancer.

Spanish regenerative medicine pioneer, Professor Paolo Macchiarini, led the operation at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. In 2008 he carried out the world's first tissue-engineered tracheal transplant on a 30-year-old Spanish woman, Claudia Costillo.

Professor Alexander Seifalian, from University College London, worked with Professor Macchiarini to produce the synthetic trachea scaffold. He said: "This is the first time that a wholly tissue-engineered synthetic windpipe has been made and successfully transplanted, making it an important milestone for regenerative medicine."

The Y-shaped structure was made from a plastic-like "nanocomposite" polymer material consisting of microscopic building blocks. The material had previously been developed and patented by Prof Seifalian.

To guide the process, CT (computerised tomography) scan images were obtained of the patient's damaged trachea. These were used to produce a glass mould for the nanocomposite structure.

The scaffold was taken to Sweden, where it was "seeded" with stem cells from the patient's own body. The prepared trachea was then placed in a "bioreactor", a device providing the right environment for growth.

After just two days the stem cells had grown into tracheal cells ready for transplantation.

Since the organ was built from cells originating from the patient, there was no risk of it being rejected by his immune system.

Prof Seifalian said: "Professor Macchiarini has previously performed successful transplants of tissue engineered tracheas, but on those occasions the tracheas used were taken from organ donors and then reseeded with the patient's own stem cells.

"What makes this procedure different is it's the first time that a wholly tissue-engineered synthetic windpipe has been made and successfully transplanted, making it an important milestone for regenerative medicine. We expect there to be many more exciting applications for the novel polymers we have developed."

The patient is said to be doing well and is due to be discharged from hospital tomorrow.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

    Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

    Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee