The hospi­tal grow­ing noses, ears and blood ves­sels

... Bri­tish sci­en­tists make cus­tom-made body parts us­ing stem cells

Daily Trust - - DIGEST -

In Lon­don’s Royal Free hospi­tal, sci­en­tists are grow­ing noses, ears and blood ves­sels in the lab­o­ra­tory in a bold at­tempt to make body parts us­ing stem cells. It is among sev­eral labs around the world, in­clud­ing in the U.S., that are work­ing on the fu­tur­is­tic idea of grow­ing cus­tom-made or­gans in the lab.

Only a hand­ful of pa­tients have re­ceived the Bri­tish lab-made or­gans so far - in­clud­ing tear ducts, blood ves­sels and wind­pipes.

But re­searchers hope they will soon be able to trans­plant more types of body parts into pa­tients, in­clud­ing what would be the world’s first nose made partly from stem cells.

‘It’s like mak­ing a cake,’ said Pro­fes­sor Alexan­der Seifalian at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don, the sci­en­tist leading the ef­fort. ‘We just use a dif­fer­ent kind of oven.’

Dur­ing a re­cent visit to his lab, Pro­fes­sor Seifalian showed off a so­phis­ti­cated ma­chine used to make moulds from a poly­mer ma­te­rial for var­i­ous or­gans.

Last year, he and his team made a nose for a Bri­tish man who lost his to cancer. Sci­en­tists added a salt and su­gar so­lu­tion to the mould of the nose to mimic the some­what spon­ge­like tex­ture of the real thing.

Stem cells were taken from the pa­tient’s fat and grown in the lab for two weeks be­fore be­ing used to cover the nose scaf­fold. Later, the nose was im­planted into the man’s fore­arm so that skin would grow to cover it.

Pro­fes­sor Seifalian said he and his

Last year, he and his team made a nose for a Bri­tish man who lost his to cancer. Sci­en­tists added a salt and su­gar so­lu­tion to the mould of the nose to mimic the some­what sponge-like tex­ture of the real thing.

team are wait­ing for ap­proval from reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties to trans­fer the nose onto the pa­tient’s face but couldn’t say when that might hap­pen.

The po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions of lab­made or­gans ap­pear so promis­ing even the city of Lon­don is get­ting in­volved.

The poly­mer ma­te­rial used for his or­gan scaf­folds has been patented and Pro­fes­sor Seifalian has also ap­plied for patents for their blood ves­sels, tear ducts and wind­pipe.

He and his team are cre­at­ing other or­gans in­clud­ing coro­nary ar­ter­ies and ears. Later this year, a trial is sched­uled to start in In­dia and Lon­don to test lab-made ears for people born with­out them.

Some sci­en­tists pre­dicted cer­tain lab-made or­gans will soon cease to be ex­per­i­men­tal.

‘I’m con­vinced en­gi­neered or­gans are go­ing to be on the mar­ket soon,’ said Su­chi­tra Su­mi­tran-Hol­gers­son, a pro­fes­sor of trans­plan­ta­tion bi­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Gothen­burg in Swe­den. She has trans­ferred lab­made blood ves­sels into a hand­ful of pa­tients and plans to of­fer them more widely by 2016, pend­ing reg­u­la­tory ap­proval.

Still, she ac­knowl­edged doc­tors will have to watch closely for any long-term side ef­fects, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a higher cancer risk.

The Royal Free hospi­tal in north Lon­don is among sev­eral in the world, that are work­ing on the fu­tur­is­tic idea of grow­ing cus­tom-made or­gans in the lab. Dr Michelle Grif­fin, who is work­ing at the lab, said ears (top right) are harder to make than noses...

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