Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology, or HART, is developing a system that turns patient’s stem cells into lab-made, transplantable organs. More specifically, this approach allows scientists to grow artificial tracheas for patients who have severely damaged their own.
These man-made versions were manufactured on synthetic scaffolds, which provides a good environment for stem cell development. The scaffolds are made to fit each patient through a highly technical process, which requires HART scientists to spin extremely fine fibers of plastic into a tube. The result is a customized scaffold “that makes a mesh that’s the right size for the cells,” says Green. “They feel at home there.”
Once the stem cells are “rained down over the top of the scaffold,” they are kept in a specialized rotating incubator for about two days, where they get a chance to grow and develop into a functional organ.
Because the organ is created with the patient’s own stem cells, the body is more likely to accept the transplant. According to Green, new cell types – including ones that line the inner surface and help move mucous from the lungs by coughing – begin to appear on the organ about five days after the transplant.
Research took place in HART labs around the EU and Russia, but the company is looking to move operations into a manufacturing facility, where synthetic organs can be produced on a larger scale. Trial testings in the US will take place as soon as the FDA grants approval.
Source: Technology Review