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Biotech Medicine Science

Rat Lung Successfully Regenerated and Transplanted 59

Dr. Eggman writes "Nature Medicine brings us news of the latest success in the regeneration of the gas exchanging tissues [abstract is free; the full paper requires subscription or payment] of the lungs of a rat. Led by Harald C. Ott, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston used decellularization to produce a cellular scaffolding to serve as the basis of the transplant lungs. You may recall the previous achievements in use of this cellular scaffolding technique by Yale University. This latest announcement comes with the excellent news that the rat's airway and respiratory muscles performed the necessary ventilation (as a normal rat's would), and that they provided gas exchange for up to 6 hours after extubation, up from the previous 2 hours. They eventually failed due to capillary leakage resulting in the accumulation of fluids in the lungs. Although there's much work to be done, as not all the cell types found in the lung were regenerated, Ott and his team remain optimistic and estimated we might see regenerated organs for use in human patients within 5 to 10 years." PhysOrg has videos of the lungs doing their thing.
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Rat Lung Successfully Regenerated and Transplanted

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  • Great thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @02:48AM (#32941284)
    once they perfect it and get it approved for humans. There is a big shortage of viable organ replacements, and something like this could work wonders, especially if it also gets around the tissue typing issues. But what do I know, I'm not in the medical field.
    • I'm 27, and I think it'd be great for the need to organ donors to no longer be needed in my lifetime. Not because being an organ donor is a bad thing, but simply because we found a better way of getting organs for those who need them.
      • Re:Great thing (Score:5, Informative)

        by simula ( 1032230 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:32AM (#32941362) Homepage
        This technique still requires donor lungs. However, there are two huge advances using this technique.
        • Because the organ is decellularized and repopulated with the recipient's own tissue, the recipient does not need anti-rejection drugs.
        • Because the organ is decellularized until it is the collagen matrix of the organ, it should be much easier to store and is not in danger of dying like regular organs.

        Either one of these advances is a giant breakthrough in it's own right. Here is a link to a picture and story about the decullarization of rat hearts and their partially successful recullarization. []

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by NFN_NLN ( 633283 )

        I'm 27, and I think it'd be great for the need to organ donors to no longer be needed in my lifetime. Not because being an organ donor is a bad thing, but simply because we found a better way of getting organs for those who need them.

        I'm 4 years old, and I think it's would be neato if we could solve world hunger in my lifetime. Not because being skinny is a bad thing, but simply because we found a better way of distributing Oreos to those who need them.

        I hope this comment was super helpful. Hey, what did you expect, I'm only 4 years old.

    • Re:Great thing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:40AM (#32941386) Journal
      It's not just the tissue typing - which does have issues - but also the rejection thing. The anti-rejection drugs cause a lot of issues since by design they weaken the immune system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        And, unfortunately, they aren't 100% effective at staving off rejection. A family friend's immune system just started demonstrating its ingratitude, with extreme prejudice, for his new heart. The doctors are hoping that they'll be able to tweak his drugs and get it to stop before serious damage occurs; but doing so without leaving you open to nasty infections and/or exotic cancers is apparently quite tricky.
    • I think you do have a point though, there is a need for lung replacement therapy, and surgery...of which enphizema patients are top on the list...i saw the movie bicentennial man with robin williams, brilliant movie (although very long)
      and could not wait for us to start ctaching up to the idea of synthetic organ replacement parts.

      A synthetic heart of which beats on its own without batteries is the most needed one, as well as liver and kidneys,...

  • Great Progress (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FalleStar ( 847778 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:09AM (#32941312) Homepage
    It sounds like this is coming along nicely, this is some truly amazing work that's being done. Unfortunately I think the team is being incredibly optimistic thinking that this treatment might be being used on humans in 5 years. I have no ties to the medical field, but it seems that whenever I hear about an excellent but experimental procedure it ends up staying in the testing phase for a very long time, if not forever, before it's approved for regular use. Hopefully I am wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:17AM (#32941328)

    ... rats who smoke are rejoicing.

  • Free papers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jprupp ( 697660 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @03:33AM (#32941370)

    I thought scientists are a bunch of people usually very willing to share their knowledge for the wellbeing of mankind. I tended to think they were like open source people. But I've found that scientific papers on the Internet aren't normally available for free. That's sad.

    • Re:Free papers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @04:17AM (#32941462) Journal
      You've just met the publishers. Their friends say that they do a dirty but necessary job, like hangmen. Their opponents are less kind.

      The actual scientists will usually have a copy floating around their website somewhere(for copyright reasons it will, of course, be a "preprint draft" not the "real thing" because the publishers generally own that; but the text is usually identical).

      That's after they've fulfilled the "publish" side of "publish or perish", of course, the helpfulness or outright paranoia of scientists who have data they haven't gotten a paper out of yet varies widely...
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The majority of peer-reviewd scientific journals do require a subscription. Access to these journals has a cost not necessarily because of scientists' unwillingness to share their knowledge but rather because publishers need a source of income.

      If you want to check out a particular scientist's work for free, you may want to see if that scientist has a research group website. Most scientists/professors at universities have some kind of website where they provide background for their research. You can sometime

    • Re:Free papers (Score:5, Informative)

      by SlashBugs ( 1339813 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @06:29AM (#32941726)
      Scientists would love for all of our papers to be open-access. Even ignoring the big ideological reasons (what's the point of discovering this stuff if we can't tell everyone?), our career progression is almost entirely dependent on people's recognition of our published work. We want as many people as possible to read, build on and cite our work, because that's how we build the reputations we need to get funding, jobs and groupies.*

      The problem is that a big part of the way our publication record is assessed is whether our work was published in "high-tier" journals, i.e. the journals that print the most often cited (therefore deemed to be best quality) papers. These journals are almost all closed-access (Nature, Science, Cell, etc.). Worse, they demand that you transfer copyright over to them so you're forbidden from giving copies of your papers away.

      A few larger organisations have managed to negotiate better terms. For example, work funded by various governments (most or all of the EU states, USA, etc) or big, influential charities (e.g. Cancer Research UK) can (and must) be released for free, generally at least six months after initial publication. This sort of negotiation is possible for influential funding bodies, who could otherwise insist that labs receiving funding boycott closed journals. However, an individual scientist can only try to fight the system by submitting their work to open-access journals. This is noble but, without work published in high-tier journals, they're really destroying their chances of getting ahead in a fiercely competitive funding and job market. A lot of scientists hate the current publishing system but, really, they have us by the balls.

      *I can dream. Shut up.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        After fourteen years of graduate school, Professor Farnsworth settled into the glamorous life of a scientist. Fast cars, hot nightclubs, beautiful women... the professor designed them all out of his one-bedroom apartment.

      • Yes. And furthermore somehow the journal rankings end up being done by those same publishers again. Open access journals often don't appear in their ranking tables at all. No ranking -> no rating -> no government funding.

  • Doubtful (Score:1, Interesting)

    by kuzb ( 724081 )
    It's always "in another 5 to 10 years" and then everyone forgets about it and nothing ever comes of it.
    • And yet, somehow, medicine has advanced considerably even within my (relatively short) lifetime.

      It's like passing a construction site: Every day, it's just a bunch of heavy equipment shoving dirt from point A to point B and back, while guys in hardhats scurry assorted mysterious objects around. It doesn't look like progress at all; but stuff demonstrably gets built.

      Now, the number of projects that actually make it into clinical use is certainly smaller than the number whose developers said 5 years ago
    • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:05AM (#32941540) Homepage

      No, actually it does.

      It's just that when it happens, it seems completely normal [].

      It seems you hear about breakthroughs when the promising research happens. You don't find out about the first company that puts it to work though, unless it's something really huge.

    • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Informative)

      by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @05:28AM (#32941576)

      It's always "in another 5 to 10 years" and then everyone forgets about it and nothing ever comes of it.

      Almost none of the exciting medical research projects you're talking about were "forgotten," what happened is they didn't pan out. Cancer drugs have worked in rats but not in humans, various treatments have had promising initial results on cells in a dish, and then in a whole animal they had unexpected side effects, refinements in efficiency and cost proved impossible, etc.

      In the cases where you hear "5 to 10 years" and then nothing, one common scenario leading to that is that one of the researchers associated with the exciting project was asked when it might be useful on patients, which the researcher probably had no real idea since it would probably be another researcher or a whole different organization entirely to take it the next step. An honest answer in those cases would be "I have no idea, I hadn't really thought about it beyond there's nothing that I could do immediately and there are other more interesting projects I'll work on next, I'm basically done with this" He or she instead just said "Oh, maybe 5 to 10 years." Whoever he or she told that to liked the sound of that and thought it would make the news item/blog post/story more interesting and stated it as a specific prediction rather than just a random vague guess. And then whoever picked it up, another lab, another researcher in the same lab, a private company, found it didn't make the transition from petri dish to lab rat or lab rat to human clinical trials.

      Also possible that the researcher was just trying to hype up his or her own research to get more funding.

      Anyway, these projects haven't just been forgotten because we researchers have short memories, and those 5-10 year predictions weren't supposed to be or shouldn't have been promises.

    • Anytime I've seen anyone use the phrase "In 10 years" they usually meant to say "I don't know." If you keep that in mind you can easily translate what they say into english. Of course the phrase "In 20 years" means "I really don't know" and of course "In 50 years" means "I don't even know what I need to know to say I don't know."
  • .. isn't it about time they ponied up the dough to register MyVideoConverter? (check the third video, with the implanted lung, it's got a message overlay)
  • It's absolutely wonderful to be a rat in this day and age of advanced medical technology!

  • I can start smoking again! Aside from the "it's bad for ya" aspect, tobacco is awesome.

  • Just make sure to choose a payment plan that fits your lifestyle.
  • Gee. 5-10 years is how long I have to wait for new battery technology.

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