Stem Cell Treatment May End Need For Donor Organs

09Jul11

In a pioneering operation, a ten year old boy has received a donor windpipe for which they will never need to take anti-rejection medication – medication which can lower life expectancy and raise the risk of cancer.

In the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a donated trachea was stripped of most of its tissue leaving a bare scaffold into which stem cells taken from the boy were injected. Usually the stem cells would be artificially incubated inside the organ for months as they grow to cover the organ – however, in this operation the stem cells were only injected into the organ immediately prior to the implantation of the organ, meaning the the boy’s body will act as the incubator, simplifying- and reducing the cost of- the treatment.

It is possible that the treatment may be able to be used in conjunction with organs other than the trachea – and another possibility is that the treatment may obviate the need for donor organs, as a patient’s own damaged organ might be able to be rejuvenated using the treatment.

Source: Windpipe transplant may end all transplants – The groundbreaking operation to give a ten-year-old a new windpipe created using his own stem cells could eventually end all transplants. [The Telegraph, 20th March 2010]

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