For the first time a
working artificial windpipe using a patient’s own adult stem cells has been
created. A 36-year-old Eritrean man had a rare tracheal cancer which was
obstructing his breathing. Doctors at the Karolinska
University Hospital, in Stockholm, created a spongy and flexible scaffold made
from polymers and seeded it with stem cells. The cells grew on the scaffold over
two days and the structure was successfully transplanted on June 9. The man, Andemarian Telesenbet Beyene, a
36-year-old geology student appears to be
thriving and went home yesterday. There was no need to wait for an organ donor.
like a normal windpipe," surgeon Paolo Macchiarini told NPR. "He's
able to cough. He's able to expel his secretions. He's breathing normally. He
has the sensation he's breathing."
This operation marks a big advance on Dr Macchiarini’s landmark operation in 2008 when he replaced the larynx of
a Colombian woman with one from a cadaver donor, seeded with stem cells. The
new technique bypasses the human donor and is far speedier, an important factor with fast-growing
cancers. Because it was made from the patient’s own cells, the artificial
larynx is not rejected by the immune system.
"It's yet another
demonstration that what was once considered hype [in the field of tissue
engineering] is becoming a life-changing moment for patients," Alan
Russell, of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Pittsburgh, told
the Wall Street Journal. ~ NPR, July 8