Scientists and physicians in North Carolina have grown a new trachea for a 30-year-old woman using her own adult stem cells.
The procedure, which was led by Dr. Tony Atala of Wake Forest University, involved the use of regular somatic, non-stem cell, cells from the trachea of a deceased donor, which were combined with the woman’s own autologous adult stem cells. After the scientists removed all of the cells from the donor trachea, they then reseeded the remaining extracellular structure with mesenchymal stem cells harvested from the woman’s own bone marrow. From the resulting cellular mixture, new cartilage and tracheal tissue grew and developed into the new trachea.
The woman is doing well and has no need for immune-suppressing drugs, side effects of which are numerous and often include high blood pressure, kidney failure and cancer, among other problems.
Dr. Atala has grown other organs from autologous adult stem cells in the past, including entire bladders. As reports such as these indicate, the prospect of growing new organs and replacement anatomical parts is no longer in the futuristic realm of science fiction but instead is a modern reality that is already occurring today. As technological and medical tools become increasingly more sophisticated and refined, the field of regenerative medicine increasingly offers new hope to patients in even the most dire of circumstances, for the treatment of diseases and injuries which previously were considered untreatable.