Transplant of trachea made from stem cells successful

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The first operation for transplantation of a tissue-engineered airway has been successful. This procedure has massively improved the quality of life of the 30-year-old Colombian female recipient who needed the transplant after contracting tuberculosis.

Claudia Castillo, 30, who lives in Barcelona, has become the first person to be given a whole organ tailor-made for her in laboratories across Europe. Since 2006 a few patients in the US have been receiving tissue engineered bladders which have so far appeared to be successful.

The work was a multicentre effort, led by Professor Paolo Macchiarini (Hospital Cl?nic of Barcelona). These pioneering results are reported in the Lancet.

The loss of a normal airway is devastating. Attempts to replace large airways have met with serious problems. Prerequisites for a tissue-engineered replacement are a suitable matrix, cells, ideal mechanical properties, and the absence of antigenicity. Researchers aimed to bioengineer tubular tracheal matrices, using a tissue-engineering protocol, and to assess the application of this technology in a patient with end-stage airway disease.

The results show that researchers can produce a cellular, tissue-engineered airway with mechanical properties that allow normal functioning, and which is free from the risks of rejection. The findings suggest that autologous cells combined with appropriate biomaterials might provide successful treatment for patients with serious clinical disorders.

The study was funded by Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Fondo de Investigaci?n Sanitaria, Spain; Charles Courtenay-Cowlin Fund, University of Bristol; UK Arthritis Research Campaign; and the James Tudor Foundation.

Source: Lancet, UK

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