Laboratory lungs were successfully transplanted into experimental animals

  • Laboratory lungs were successfully transplanted into experimental animals

Laboratory lungs were successfully transplanted into experimental animals

The team found that before the pigs were euthanized, the transplanted lungs developed without any outside help, building blood vessels they needed for survival.

The first human lung transplant procedure was performed in 1963, and the recipient survived 18 days, ultimately succumbing to renal failure and malnutrition.

All of the pigs that received the bioengineered lung remained healthy. The work, which was recently detailed in a study published by Science Translational Medicine, details the work and progress made over the last few years, reaching the point where no complication resulted from the transplants. The researchers used cells from a single lung removed from each of the pigs in the study to create tissue-matched lungs for them.

The doctors are hoping that within a decade, lab-grown human lungs will be transplanted into patients to save them from chronic lung diseases, cystic fibrosis and anything that threatens life and lungs. After a month, the lungs were transplanted into the recipient pigs. No need for donors or years-long waiting lists. This technique could possibly be used in the future to respond to the shortage of organs for transplantation.

"This is the first time someone has transplanted a whole bioengineered organ", Joan Nichols, associate director of the Galveston National Laboratory at University of Texas Medical Branch, told Digital Trends. A support scaffold was created using a lung from an unrelated animal that was treated using a special mixture of sugar and detergent to eliminate all cells and blood in the lung, leaving only the scaffolding proteins or skeleton of the lung behind. The medical condition of the animals was assessed at ten hours, two weeks, one month, and two months following the operation, which allowed the team to construct a timeline of the lung tissue's development. Already at two weeks, the bioengineered lung had integrated itself into the blood system and was colonized by the bacteria that make up the natural biome of the lung.

"We saw no signs of pulmonary edema, which is usually a sign of the vasculature not being mature enough", the researchers wrote.

"We were also able to improve from small animal studies to then transplanting them into a larger animal with a larger lung".

Given that some organs can not be transplanted from a living person to another (such as the heart), this narrows down the availability options even more, which is one of the reasons why the black market on organs is thriving.

Eventually, bioengineered lungs could replace donor ones altogether.