Successfully bioengineered pig lungs may revolutionize organ transplants

Surgical team at UTMB during pig lung transplant

The team noticed the pigs' bodies didn't reject the new lungs, despite not using immunosuppressants to help keep rejection rates low - a technique that's common in transplants. "Somewhere down the line someday", says Nichols in a press announcement, "we may be able to take cells from somebody, maybe it's their stem cells, and produce an organ that is their organ, tissue-matched to them with no immune suppression needed that would function the way their own lung originally did".

The researchers hope that the technology could one day be used for human lung transplants.

"The number of people who have developed severe lung injuries has increased worldwide, while the number of available transplantable organs have decreased", study author Joaquin Cortiella, a professor of pediatric anesthesia, said in a university news release. A support scaffold was created using a lung from an unrelated animal that was treated using a special mixture of sugar and detergent to eliminate all cells and blood in the lung, leaving only the scaffolding proteins or skeleton of the lung behind. Already two weeks after transplantation, the laboratory lung had created the necessary blood vessel network that allowed it to survive in the body, which prevented the risk of pulmonary edema.

The team harvested lungs from dead pigs to construct a scaffold for the bioengineered lung to hold fast to.

Russia appoints Hollywood star Steven Seagal as 'goodwill ambassador' to US
He will receive no salary, the Ministry said, adding, "It's a case of people's diplomacy intersecting with traditional diplomacy". For more than a decade Seagal, who according to his own website is 66, has been a regular visitor to Russian Federation .

Scientists in the U.S. first created a "scaffold" which came from an unrelated donor pig, achieving this using a process in which all cells and blood are removed from the organ, leaving just a skeleton. The work, which was recently detailed in a study published by Science Translational Medicine, details the work and progress made over the last few years, reaching the point where no complication resulted from the transplants. Blood vessels and lung tissue cells were "repopulated", according to Science News.

The study was meant to assess how well the bioengineered lungs adapted and continued to mature within a large, living body.

The researchers assessed the development of lung tissue and integration of the bioengineered lungs at 10 hours, two weeks, one month and two months after the transplants. But they next want to study the long-term viability of the organs. However, it looks like the road is still long before human bioengineered lung transplants could take place.

The researchers said that with enough funding, they could grow lungs to transplant into people in compassionate use circumstances within five to 10 years. Because of this, many scientists have tried to create bioengineered lungs, although without notable success until now.

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