Medicine

Scientists Created Lab-Grown Lungs And Transplanted Them Into Pigs

Scientists Created Lab-Grown Lungs And Transplanted Them Into Pigs

In some cases, it took as few as two weeks for the lung to grow a strong blood vessel network, the crucial component enabling them to survive.

The study showed that the bioengineered lungs continued to develop post-transplant without any infusions of growth factors, and the body provided all of the building blocks that the new lungs needed. Each pig received one bioengineered lung and retained an original lung. This was the source of the cells used to produce a tissue-matched bioengineered lung for each animal in the study. If all is well, in the near future, we might finally have a solution to the organ transplant crisis hospitals across the globe have been facing for years. The donated lung was from an unrelated pig and was cleaned with a mixture of sugar and detergent to eliminate all the blood and cells, leaving just the scaffolding proteins behind.

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

"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.

Once the four pigs got their personalized organs, Nichols, Cortiella and their collaborators kept tabs on the porcine patients, checking in 10 hours, two weeks, one month and two months after surgery. Blood vessels and lung tissue cells were "repopulated", according to Science News. 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.

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"We were also able to improve from small animal studies to then transplanting them into a larger animal with a larger lung".

There was no signs of pulmonary edema, which is usually a sign of the vasculature not being mature enough, according to the researchers. Besides transplants, bioengineered lungs are a great testing medium for experimental drugs, another line of work that can save countless lives.

The finished bioengineered lung - featuring cells from the patient - was then transplanted into the pigs. Scientists believe that if they secure adequate funding for their research they will have managed to transplant laboratory lungs into humans in five to ten years from today.

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