AUG 04, 2018 11:25 AM PDT

Bioengineered Lung Successfully Grown and Transplanted

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The successful engineering of synthetic organs has long been a goal in biomedical research, but many organs are incredibly complex structures that contain a variety of different cell types, which then have to be organized in very specific ways for proper organ function. Scientists have been plugging away at this work for years, however, and progress is being made. A new paper in Science Translational Medicine describes the successful effort to grow and transplant a synthetic lung into a large animal model.
 
 

"The number of people who have developed severe lung injuries has increased worldwide, while the number of available transplantable organs have decreased," said Joaquin Cortiella, professor of pediatric anesthesia. 

"Our ultimate goal is to eventually provide new options for the many people awaiting a transplant," said Joan Nichols, professor of internal medicine and associate director of the Galveston National Laboratory at UTMB.

Human lungs were created in the laboratory for the first time in 2014 at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, by Cortiella and Nichols. They continued their work, which involved figuring out how to lay the foundations for the lung's structure. To do so, they took a fully formed lung from an animal and stripped it of all the proteins except for the scaffolding. The result was a lung shape made from lung-specific proteins.

A single cell was taken from a study animal, a pig, to grow a matching lung on the scaffold. The cell was expanded to create a pool of matched cells, and they applied them to the scaffolding along with nutrients. After thirty days in a bioreactor, the engineered lungs were ready to be transplanted. To assess the impact of the transplant on the animal models, the investigators euthanized he animals at ten hours, two weeks, a month and two months following the transplant.

The new lungs did well, and they established the network of blood vessels they need. "We saw no signs of pulmonary edema, which is usually a sign of the vasculature not being mature enough," said Nichols and Cortiella. "The bioengineered lungs continued to develop post-transplant without any infusions of growth factors, the body provided all of the building blocks that the new lungs needed."

While the necessary blood flow was established, the functionality of the transplanted lung has to be improved. "We do know that the animals had 100 percent oxygen saturation, as they had one normal functioning lung," said Cortiella. "Even after two months, the bioengineered lung was not yet mature enough for us to stop the animal from breathing on the normal lung and switch to just the bioengineered lung."

The team is continuing this work and is taking aim at gas exchange next. They believe that these lungs can be grown for human transplant within five or ten years.

"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 added.


Sources: MedicalXpress, Science Translational Medicine

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
DEC 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 17, 2019
A New Tool for Assessing the Impact of Drugs on Single Cells
When scientists assess the impact of a treatment like a drug on cells, they usually generally rely on large populations of cells to find general trends....
DEC 22, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 22, 2019
Learning More About Cell Dynamics with Holo-Tomographic Microscopy
A new microscopy technique called holo-tomographic microscopy can generate 3D images and does not require labeling....
DEC 23, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 23, 2019
An Antioxidant Found in Green Tea Can Fight Tuberculosis
In 2018, around ten million people around the globe were sickened by tuberculosis (TB) and about 1.5 million people were killed by tuberculosis....
JAN 27, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 27, 2020
The 3D Ultrastructure of a Cell is Revealed
Seeing what's going on inside of cells presents many challenges that advances in microscopy have tried to address....
JAN 27, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 27, 2020
Microbes in Household Dust May Be Spreading Antibiotic Resistance
Bacteria live in household dust, and sometimes a few of those microbes are pathogenic or carry genes that confer resistance to antibiotics....
JAN 28, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 28, 2020
A Rare Genetic Disorder is Effectively Treated With Modified Stem Cells
A clinical trial used stem cell gene therapy to treat a rare genetic disorder called X-CGD. Image credit: UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center/Nature Medicine...
Loading Comments...