Christopher Lyles, a 30 year old man who was diagnosed with trachea cancer was unfortunately unable to remove the cancer and was facing his imminent death. Luckily for him, he was given a second chance when a visiting professor from Stockholm, Sweden came by and offered to build him an artificial trachea. With nothing to lose Lyles grabbed the opportunity and managed to undergo the first successful artificial trachea implant for an American (and the second time this procedure was ever performed with a trachea made from stem cells).
By about 2008, Lyles had tried every other conventional method
The man behind the research was Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, who was visiting the United States from his home university at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden. He was contacted by the patient’s brother-in-law who was able to get a hold of Dr. Paolo, of which he agreed to help. The artificial trachea was made from both the patient’s stem cells that were extracted from his bone marrow, and plastic fibers made from PET plastic or the stuff plastic water-bottles are usually made from. The plastic fibers were covered in stem cells and were cultured in a bioreactor – provided by Harvard Bioscience – for 2 days before being implanted. Although special compounds were used to help differentiate the stem cells to transform into trachea cells, once implanted,
Although the operation from start to finish was quite pricy, this at least helps to serve as a proof of concept and that using stem cells to create artificial organs can work. Tracheas however, are relatively simple human tissue; for it’s really just a ‘Y’ shaped tube, whereas a lung or liver is far more complex. Not to mention human hearts, which are always of a shortage. Perhaps in the near future we will be able to grow human hearts and organs, and cheaply enough for everyone to use. Remember, the future is abundant. Science and Engineering are the engines of prosperity.
1. Becker, Deborah. "Mass. Company Behind Worldâ??s First Artificial Trachea Transplant." WBUR. N.p., 6 Jan. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <http://www.wbur.org/2012/01/06/trachea-transplant-surgery>.
2. Park, Madison. "Lab-made Organ Implanted for First Time." CNN. Cable News Network, 08 July 2011. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/07/trachea.transplant/index.html>.
3. Fountain, Henry. "Synthetic Windpipe Is Used To Replace Cancerous One." The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Jan. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/13/health/research/surgeons-transplant-synthetic-trachea-in-baltimore-man.html?_r=0>.
4. Prentice, David. "LifeNews.com." Man's Life Saved With Artificial Trachea Using Stem Cells. Life News, 16 Jan. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <http://www.lifenews.com/2012/01/16/mans-life-saved-with-artificial-trachea-using-stem-cells/>.