Monday, June 25, 2012

Growing Human Organs

Annals of Science

An article in ABC News by Dr. Jessica Noonan discusses the potential of human organs grown in the lab in what is medical scientists call regenerative medicine:
To some, this may sound like science fiction—and in many ways, it still is. But the advances in the field of regenerative medicine that made headlines last week suggest such lab-grown organs may become reality in the future.
 One of these advances was Swedish scientists' creation of a custom vein that has carried blood from a little girl's intestines to her liver for a year and counting. In another, a group in Japan successfully implanted lab-grown livers made from human cells into mice -- organs that metabolized drugs the way they would in a human.
And these developments may be just the tip of the iceberg. From skin to blood vessels to solid organs, work is underway to offer more options for patients with faulty or damaged body parts.
Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., was part of the first group in the world to successfully implant a lab-grown organ into the human body. Atala's interest in the field began when he was training to become a urologist and saw numerous children who had undergone bladder replacement surgery. Many of them were experiencing leaks, and some even suffered ruptures of their new bladders.
The current thinking is to use a patient's own cells rather than relying on those of a donor, which avoids the necessity of finding a suitable match and avoiding a rejection by the recipient's body. For now the technology is many years away from everyday use and, in particular, from producing solid organs like kidneys, livers and hearts.
You can read the rest of the article at [ABC News]

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