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Artificial trachea from stem cells helps cancer patients
A 36-year-old Eritrean suffered from severe and rare form of tracheal cancer. Using the body's own stem cells, an artificial windpipe was created and successfully used on the man.
Successful transplantation of artificial trachea
The surgeons at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm have managed to give the man an almost normal life. Previously, he had suffered from a malignant tumor in the esophagus, which continued to enlarge despite intensive radiation therapy and blocked the trachea. A tracheal transplant would have been his only hope. However, there is an acute shortage of donor organs in this area. No suitable organ was available.
The doctors therefore decided to produce an artificial trachea from the Eritrean's own stem cells. For this, a synthetic scaffold was built, which was then populated with stem cells. After 36 hours in a special bioreactor, the artificial trachea was ready for transplantation. In a 12-hour operation, the tumor was first removed and then the new trachea was inserted successfully. This was the first time in the history of medicine.
Body's own stem cells prevent rejection reaction The use of body's own stem cells has the advantage that the new organ is usually not rejected by the immune system. Previously, the British-Swedish team of researchers, led by Paolo Macchiarini, had already transplanted the tubes of dead donors to other patients who had previously been colonized with the body's own stem cells after the donor cells had been removed. In this new method of tissue engineering, researchers see great opportunities, especially for young children in childhood.
In the specialist journal “The Lancet”, the researchers report that an artificial trachea with the body's own stem cells has now been successfully transplanted to another patient. In the case of the second patient, an American, the procedure would have been further celebrated, in which the framework of the artificial trachea was made from special nanofibers.
In an accompanying commentary in “The Lancet”, Harald Ott from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Douglas Mathisen from the Harvard Medical School stated that it only took a long time to find out whether the customized implants really had a great chance of success. Only then can this method be used widely.
Stem cells can be used in many ways. Stem cells are endogenous cells that can develop into different types of cells and tissues. While embryonic stem cells are able to differentiate into every tissue, adult stem cells are always fixed to a certain tissue type.
Treatment with the body's own stem cells has a permanent place in medicine today. It is used, for example, in cancer therapy and in the treatment of heart diseases. Researchers around the world see great potential but at the same time there is still a great need for research in the field of stem cell therapy.
New trachea made of skin tissue and cartilage Last year, a team of doctors led by surgeons Philippe Dartevelle and Frédéric Kolb presented another method of producing artificial trachea at the Marie Lannelongue surgical center in Le Plessis Robinson. They succeeded in forming new tracheal tubes out of skin tissue and cartilage in cancer patients. The grafts could be used to rebuild the trachea. (ag)
New windpipe made of skin and cartilage