According to The Telegraph, researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) demonstrated how bioengineered lungs could be transplanted into pigs without any complications or immune suppression usually associated with the procedure. In theory this could mean an end to organ shortage.
To grow the organs in the lab, scientists took the lung of a separate pig and stripped it of its blood and cells using a special mix of sugar and detergent, so that only the ‘skeleton’ remained.
They then created a cocktail of nutrients and lung cells from the pig which was to receive the transplant, and placed it in a tank with the organ skeleton.
The lungs were grown for 30 days and implanted into four pigs who were kept alive for 10 hours, two weeks, one month and two months to see how blood vessels were developing.
All of the pigs that received a bioengineered lung stayed healthy.
As early as two weeks post-transplant, the bioengineered lung had established the network of blood vessels needed for the lung to survive. And there was no sign of too much fluid in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema, which can cause respiratory failure.
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