Man's New Windpipe is the World's First Synthetic Organ Transplant

By Valerie Ross | July 11, 2011 11:01 am

The synthetic trachea, just before implantation

What’s the News: An African man’s new trachea is the world’s first synthetic organ to be transplanted. Made from a polymer scaffold coated with the patient’s own cells, the windpipe seems to be working out well, more than a month after the surgery.

How the Heck:

What’s the Context:

  • Earlier windpipe transplants have also used tissues derived from the patients’ stem cells—but the tissues were grown on donor tracheae, not artificial scaffolds, meaning that a suitable donor was still needed for every transplant.
  • Building new organs from only a patient’s cells and manmade materials, however, could eliminate the need for donor organs altogether, a major benefit given the chronic shortage of organs and the number of patients who die while waiting for a transplant.
  • This transplant was also amazingly fast—two days to grow a trachea!—which is particularly good news for patients who are critically ill.

The Future Holds:

Image: University College London

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • ganesh

    Just amazing! This is biotechnology at its most fantastic. We just keep getting better at cheating death.

  • Martin

    A great discovery and an amazing service for the most needed. Congrats and many thanks for the scientists who made this happen.

  • afasfv rgda

    Your site is a gem, keep it up

  • Matt B.

    Not that this is your fault, and not that it really matters, but “African” is not very specific. It’s a big place, with two Congos and three Guineas, to say the least.


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