Rat lungs renovated in lab using stem cells

Scientists from Yale University have discovered a novel technique that uses stem cells to build better lungs.

According to the researchers, ”reseeding” lungs with a patient’s own stem cells before a transplant could save millions of lives.

The researchers have come up with a technique to remove all cells from a lung and then reseed the remaining connective tissue scaffold with a patient”s own cells.

“This is really the first paper that talks about engineering an entire lung that can be implanted and can exchange gas,” Discovery News quoted Laura Niklason, a scientist at Yale University and a co-author on the Science paper, as saying.

Currently scientists are experimenting with rats and not humans.

Lung transplants are usually risky procedures, but if a patient’s own stem cells re-colonized the lung, the chance of organ rejection would drop dramatically, which should raise the long-term survival rate.

Conducting the experiment on rats’ lungs, the scientists found that the reseeded lungs worked just as the original lungs.

However, there are hurdles that the scientists need to clear before the procedure is tried on humans. They are high on optimism, though.

Kidneys, liver, hearts and other organs could all potentially be reseeded with a patient’s own cells, which are grown and then implanted into the patient to eliminate organ rejection.

“No one expected this to work so well, not even for a short amount of time,” said Daniel Weiss, a scientist at the University of Vermont.

“This research will set the stage for years to come.”

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