No More Organ Donations
Dealing with Liver Disease
The Science of Growing Organs
The growing list of people needing a new liver and the limited number of donors has caused a significant amount of new research in the study of materials and cells to understand tissue function and regeneration. The ultimate goal of tissue engineers is to determine an effective method for growing organs suitable for transplantation (Fig. 2). While this may seem unrealistic at this moment, researchers are having increasing success. A recent success case, for instance, is an eleven year old boy from London who received a brand new trachea grown from his own stem cells in 2010 (Fig. 1) . The ability to grow organs would greatly increase the amount of organs available for transplantation and furthermore allow the organs developed to be customized to each patient’s immune system.
Researchers have achieved major breakthroughs in the past five years, with the most promising experiments managing to grow liver cells in a laboratory. In June, 2010 researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston managed to successfully transplant an artificial liver into a rat . Although the rat only survived for several hours, it was determined that the lab-grown liver was capable of breaking up toxins – the primary function of the organ. Further experimentation aims to determine methods to grow livers on a larger scale that will be accepted by the recipient’s immune system.
Hurdles to Overcome
In the Future
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