Scientists managed to create a new lung for a pig using the animal's OWN cells

Scientists in the Medical Branch at the University of Texas at Galveston used a complex series of devices to grow pig lung, made from the recipient cells, in a bioreactor

Scientists have developed the lungs of pigs from their own cells in the laboratory, reveals a new study.

After they transplanted the engineered lungs, the organs were completely filled with oxygen and continued to develop their own blood vessels, a key advance.

Lung transplants could save thousands of lives a year, but there are not enough lungs to turn around and most patients will die waiting for donor organs.

Bioengineered lungs can be made from a patient's own cells, so they do not have to take drugs to suppress their immune cells, but in animal experiments, they often fail because blood and oxygen do not flow to them properly.

Now scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston have built and transplanted four pig lungs that grow their own blood vessels after transplantation, a revelation that may one day offer hope to countless human patients.

Scientists in the Medical Branch at the University of Texas at Galveston used a complex series of devices to grow pig lung, made from the recipient cells, in a bioreactor

Scientists in the Medical Branch at the University of Texas at Galveston used a complex series of devices to grow pig lung, made from the recipient cells, in a bioreactor

There are currently 1,455 people waiting by lungs on the list of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Even for those who reach the top of the list, the steps required to obtain a new lung or pair of lungs are exhausting, and a transplant is not guaranteed to work.

Patients who are waiting for new lungs are already extremely ill, so taking the immunosuppressant medications they need to prevent their bodies from rejecting new lungs represents a significant danger.

In addition, donor lungs must be modified to suit their recipient.

But one of the main advantages of donor lungs is that they come fully equipped with active blood vessels that surgeons must carefully re-place once they are transplanted.

"The number of people who have developed serious lung injuries has increased worldwide, while the number of available transplantable organs has decreased," said study co-author Dr. Joaquin Cortiella.

"Our ultimate goal is to eventually offer new options for the many people waiting for a transplant."

While recent advances allowed scientists to develop organs – including the lungs – in the laboratory using the patient's cells to ensure perfect compatibility, the technology has had difficulty imitating the extremely complex and fine blood vessels of the organic lungs.

When transplant attempts to use these bioengineered lungs have been made in small animals, they have often failed for this reason.

But the team at the University of Texas at Galveston may have finally found a method that allows these delicate vessels to develop and function in their receptor.

To do this, they used lung cells from pigs that were not in the study to make the scaffold, or basic form, of a new lung and then used cells from each of the four animals in the study to develop the lungs perfectly compatible with the lungs. the tissues themselves.

An organ scaffolding is crucial to build a new lung with all its component parts, which works best when it is made only of lung proteins.

But if it has any trace of the animal from which it comes, the new organ will no longer be a perfect match for its recipient and could be rejected.

So the scientists cleared the scaffolding cells, washing them in a combination of sugar and detergent so that only the proteins remained, a process called decellularization.

They then placed this scaffold in a tank and bathed in stages in a "cocktail" of the cells and nutrients of the recipient pig, carefully following its protocol, or recipe, for a lung.

For 30 days, they watched carefully as each lung grew.

Finally, they were ready to be transplanted, which was where the scientists saw evidence that their unique prescription had worked.

The trick for these lungs was that they were destined to continue to develop after the transplant, so that a new network of blood vessels would grow and spread through the lung.

As early as two weeks after the transplants, the scientists saw that the proverbial seeds of the vessels they had planted had become strong nets to transport blood through the lungs.

They observed the pigs for 10 hours, two weeks, one month and two months after performing the transplants, and they saw that the organs grown in the laboratory worked remarkably well, and they seemed to keep improving.

The scientists had to install a complex series of devices in their laboratory in Galveston to wash and grow the lungs using a "cocktail" of the cells and nutrients of each recipient pig.

The scientists had to install a complex series of devices in their laboratory in Galveston to wash and grow the lungs using a "cocktail" of the cells and nutrients of each recipient pig.

The scientists had to install a complex series of devices in their laboratory in Galveston to wash and grow the lungs using a "cocktail" of the cells and nutrients of each recipient pig.

"We did not see signs of pulmonary edema, which is usually a sign that the vasculature is not mature enough," said Dr. Cortiella and his co-author, Dr. Joan Nichols.

"The bioengineering lungs continued to develop after transplant without infusions of growth factors, the body provided all the basic components that the new lungs needed."

The new lungs could be completely saturated with oxygen, although they could not fully test it because each pig still had an original lung and, even after two months, the new bioengineering systems were not yet mature enough to function without the other.

"It has taken us a lot of heart and 15 years of research to get here, our team has done something amazing with a ridiculously small budget and an incredibly dedicated group of people," said Nichols and Cortiella.

They even think that with adequate funding, lungs like those that grew for pigs could be grown for humans to use in studies of compassionate use five to 10 years from now.

But the method needs to be tested on more than four pigs, and they must be kept alive and monitored for longer to show that the lungs are really viable.

"It could be a big step, I hope it is, there are enough of us working in this area of ​​revitalization of decellularized tissues and the critical points in that process that a success like this allows us to base the need for more and more time." the studies are a wonderful and motivating result that we are working on the right things and going in the right direction, "said Dr. John Hunt of Nottingham Trent University, who was not involved in the study.

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