In a major breakthrough for the healthcare industry, scientists have now successfully created and tested the world’s first bioengineered organ. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch used lab-grown lungs to conduct a transplant on a pig, allowing it to breathe properly again.
This is a major step in the right direction for scientists and doctors as it opens new doors that could potentially save several patients suffering from lung diseases. Scientists will soon be able to create ‘made to order’ lungs for patients using their own cells
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The research team, led by Dr Joan Nichols, used pigs to test their bioengineered lungs. The process, as you can imagine, was far from straightforward. First, they created scaffolds by removing the cells and blood from the lungs of the pig, leaving only the skeleton in place.
Next, they extracted cells from the pigs lungs into the scaffold, allowing it to grow for 30 days. After this, they could finally transplant the lab grown lungs into the pig. The transplant was successful; the pigs body accepted the lung transplant, and continues to thrive on its new set of organs with no side effects.
The research team will now have to monitor the pig for the next one to two years, before they can conduct trials on animals. If everything goes as planned, researchers are confident that they will be able to begin using the procedure on humans with life threatening conditions within the next 5-10 years. The long term goal is to eliminate the need for organ donation altogether.
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