Scientists Created Lab-Grown Lungs And Transplanted Them Into Pigs

The organs transplanted into the pigs were built in a laboratory but were not made from scratch researchers said

They created lung scaffolds of pig lungs by removed all the cells and blood from pig lungs and then placed them in a Value-Added Tax of nutrients.

All in all, a lung transplant operation is a tedious, complicated job that does not come with guaranteed success.

All the animals that received the bio-artificial lung remained healthy for up to two months.

Now, in a paper available in Science Translational Medicine, they provide details of how their work has progressed to where no complications have occurred in the pigs as part of standard preclinical testing.

Recently, scientists have successfully engineered a lung explicitly made for the pig it was transplanted into by using cells from that exact pig and a type of donated organic scaffolding to create support for the lung tissue.

In the United Kingdom, some 7,000 people are on the organ waiting list, and 350 need a lung transplant. So researchers used a 30-day time frame for this study and were able to develop an immature bioengineered lung, with cells and proper tissue formation. This technique could possibly be used in the future to respond to the shortage of organs for transplantation. The medical condition of the animals was assessed at ten hours, two weeks, one month, and two months following the operation, which allowed the team to construct a timeline of the lung tissue's development.

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A bioengineered lung is produced using a support scaffold, which the researchers explain is the "skeleton" of a lung after the cells and blood have been eliminated using a detergent/sugar mixture.

"We saw no signs of pulmonary edema, which is usually a sign of the vasculature not being mature enough", the researchers wrote.

The obvious interest of this research is how this translates into medical applications for human transplants. And to top it all off, the organs' vascular network integrated - sometimes as soon as two weeks later - with the pigs' natural system of blood vessels.

The researchers said that with enough funding, they could grow lungs to transplant into people in compassionate use circumstances within 5 to 10 years. But first, coauthor Joan Nichols of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston tells Popular Science, the team will "need to prove that the animals can survive on the oxygen provided by the engineered lung alone".

"It has taken a lot of heart and 15 years of research to get us this far, our team has done something incredible with a ridiculously small budget and an amazingly dedicated group of people", Nichols and Cortiella said.

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