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Biotech Medicine Science

Spanish Surgeon Performs First Synthetic Organ Transplant 91

Bob the Super Hamste writes "The BBC is reporting that surgeons in Sweden have transplanted a synthetic windpipe into a patient. The synthetic windpipe was grown from a scaffolding and coated with the patients own stem cells. The scaffolding was made using 3D images of the patient's own windpipe. The new windpipe was made by scientists in London."
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Spanish Surgeon Performs First Synthetic Organ Transplant

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  • Fergie has had an artificial windpipe for years...
  • by toppavak ( 943659 ) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @01:50PM (#36685308)
    Anthony Atala's group, now at Wake Forest University, have grown implanted bladders grown in the same fashion. In fact, it was Atala's group that was one of the leading pioneers of the technique (I believe Robert Langer's group at MIT also had done some seminal work in this area). []
    • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
      Yeah, that is what I was thinking. But it IS the first windpipe is it not?

      The biggest thing to note about growing these "artificial" parts is that if the organ being replaced has a complex vain system, you cannot grow or replace it.
      Hopefully this will be resolved in the future so we can live to 150.
      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        Why is vanity an issue? Are these synthetic organs less ascetically pleasing?

        I would be more worried about the circulatory system of such organs.

      • Actually it is possible to produce highly vascularized tissue. The trick is to use the decellularized collagen matrix from a donor organ (either taken from an animal or from a cadaver) which can then be re-seeded with the patient's own cells and implanted. Atala's group has done this with livers (although not re-implanted yet) and has made proof-of-concepts with kidneys (by using a stack of 2d tissues rather than attempting to engineer the complete 3d structure)
    • The difference in this case is the use of stem cells to replace known bad cells. The Atala group used differentiated cells, which is of more limited use when dealing with potentially cancerous organ tissues.

    • If you RTFA, second sentence: "The surgery marks the first time a trachea grown from a patient’s stem cells and seeded onto a synthetic, rather than a donor, structure has been transplanted in a human." and the fifth sentence: "We talked to Dr. Anthony Atala, a pioneer in the field who in 1999 transplanted the first of several synthetic bladders into young people with bladder disease."
  • Huge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @01:53PM (#36685338)

    As I write this, the only comments posted so far are the usual sarcastic quips. But this is huge. Beyond huge.

    For the first time, an artificially produced cloned organ has been created and transplanted. Someone has received an organ that has zero chance of rejection and will heal to a completely natural state.

    I give it less than a decade before more complex organs like hearts or kidneys are transplanted for the first time.

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      I suppose all those clone movies were for nothing, then. Not much point in raising a full clone when you can just grow the part you need at will.

      Of course, this won't help for emergencies, but if someone has the time to spare, this is a much better option than a donated organ.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Emergencies" is open-ended. The patient in TFA had a relatively slow but still dire emergency, and he was helped in a timeframe doctors would consider "lightning speed" - growing a heretofore irreplaceable part in two weeks.

        How many people could be treated if a new irreplaceble organ of their own tissue could be made for them in, say, one month's time? The benefits would almost outstrip the imagination.

      • Re:Huge (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday July 07, 2011 @02:26PM (#36685778) Homepage Journal

        Actually it might.
        They can build the structure ahead of time, and then when needed put your cells onto the stricture.

        I suspect there will be a time when you can have your critical organ on 'standby'. At my age, I would love to hae a second heart ready to replace my older one. I read a paper where they where discussing the possible of creating a heart this way, and then having it put inside you along with your other heart to take over.

        It was high level musing..but high level musing by people that know all the details.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I suspect there will be a time when you can have your critical organ on 'standby'.

          Well, I realize you're a bit older, but I, for one, always have my critical organ on standby.

        • Will I and my family be able to live perpetually? Is there going to be a way to take my 70+ year brain and revitalize the short-term (scratchpad) memory.
    • Yeah this is massive. I remember watching a Horizon (BBC) episode on growing hearts from scaffold and stem-cell and having them function. It was beyond amazing. This is exactly where the money needs to go. Growing organs, if it beats graft-vs-host is one of the biggest potential ways forward.
    • It's not really a cloned organ. It's a stem-cell-coated scaffolding of one of the body's least metabolically active tissues. It's a lot closer to a rod in your leg than to a functioning heart.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        It's huge fro a rejection stand point, the after organ transplant procedure is pretty nasty. All that would go away.

        • The body doesn't reject titanium, either. I'm not saying this isn't a great thing - it is. But this is grown on a glass scaffolding, which could still serve as a nidus for infection, and it doesn't get us closer to real artificial organs.
      • Yes but there are other applications that this would be better suited. You could grow new arteries for bypass patients, instead of having to harvest from other parts of the body. That alone would allow people with clogged arteries the ability to be able to do strenuous activity. Eventually they will be able to do more complex but this is a huge milestone.
        • Coronary grafts would be especially bad for this, as glass (which is used for the scaffold) has properties that render it highly unsuitable for use as an arterial graft. Arteries are muscular vessels and depend on the elasticity this grants to provide smooth delivery of blood rather than jackhammering it into distal vessels. You'll need a non-rejected elastic substrate that can handle systemic arterial pressures for ten years just to match the statistical performance of vein grafts.
    • But this is huge. Beyond huge.

      If you're talking about the costs to the patient, sure. I doubt it will be covered by medicaid...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I give it less than a decade before more complex organs like hearts or kidneys are transplanted for the first time.

      Ummm... we've been transplanting hearts and kidneys for decades...

      Correct terminology IMO would be implanted. If you transplant a tree you dig it up and move from one spot in the ground to another. The windpipe didn't come from another body it came from the labratory.

    • Don't get me wrong, being able to build new organs and implant them is great.

      But that doesn't mean the new organs will last, or work perfectly. We need to check back in a few years to see how the patient did.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        There are plenty of concerns, but given the alternative was death, it's not at all a bad risk. Even if the organs did turn out not to last long, they would at least be a good bridge to transplant.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I give it less than a decade before more complex organs like hearts or kidneys are transplanted for the first time.

      Too bad it will take until the year 2368 before bodyparts like the spinal column... (

    • For the first time, an artificially produced cloned organ has been created and transplanted.

      No. They've been doing this with cloned bladders for close to a decade. The only new aspect to this is that they created the scaffold from 3D scans of the patient's own organ.

    • by EdZ ( 755139 )
      And we hadn't even got to the stage of harvesting organs from criminals yet. Take that, Niven!
    • How sad is it that I see this huge advancement and think, "Boy, that sounds expensive." *sigh* Such is life in modern America.

  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't that be an "implant"? I mean, they're not taking it from someone else, are they..?

  • No, Spanish patient, Swedish surgeon. Did you even read TFA?
  • So, is it a Wurlitzer?

  • This story seemed like a dupe of this one from last year:
    Child Receives Trachea Grown From Own Stem Cells []
    But it seems that instead of taking a donor trachea and using it for the "scaffold," they built their own, no donor at all.. Pretty amazing.
  • Someone already brought up the artificially grown bladder, which was covered earlier this year, so this surgery already seems dubious as a "first synthetic organ" transplant. The BBC article title says first synthetic windpipe, but the subtitle says first synthetic organ. I call shenanigans (and suspect a bit of nationalism at work).

    However, what about the Jarvik artificial hearts? Those were developed and transplanted years ago. Don't those qualify as synthetic organs, since they are artificial yet per

    • The Jarvik hearts are not custom-printed to be structurally identical to the patient's, but we can call them synthetic organs. The artificially grown bladders are made from the patient's (already differentiated) cells, but they are not custom printed either (they're bladders, they don't need to be).

      These windpipes are both custom printed to match the structure of the patient's original windpipe, and are made with the patient's stem cells.

      Synthetic is not the most salient descriptor, but none of the other f

  • Transplants come from someone else.
  • You are all missing the important point here, as illustrated in the title of this article.

    A *spanish* surgeon did this.

    I mean, it is the first word and all.

    • Yeah, my first reaction to the headline was "Who gives a shit where the surgeon was born?". I have to wonder how this fact, insignificant with respect to the rest of the story, was promoted to the title. "World Ends Today, Starting With Spain" - who cares where it starts?
  • I did read TFA:

    "Professor Paolo Macchiarini from Italy led the pioneering surgery, which took place at the Karolinska University Hospital."

    The only reference to Spain I saw:

    "Professor Macchiarini already has 10 other windpipe transplants under his belt - most notably the world's first tissue-engineered tracheal transplant in 2008 on 30-year-old Spanish woman Claudia Costillo"

    Not to diminish Spanish doctors, just pointing out what I think is an error in the title.
  • The title of the Slashdot article says Spanish, then in the article is says Swedish then if you click on the actual link it is an Italian professor. I just want some clarification here since it is stating so many different nationalities I want to know who did it so I can get mine.
  • Italian surgeon. African patient (studying in Iceland). English technology. Operation took place in Sweden.

    I guess the poster of the article can be given for the error in the subject line. With such an international cast it's hard to believe that a Spaniard wasn't involved *somewhere*.

  • Hopefully the technique used to grow the windpipe will be useable by other organs too, for those replacements...and be free of anti rejection drugs as a whole!

Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. -- F.M. Hubbard