Surgeons claim to have carried out the world’s first transplant of a fully synthetic organ - a windpipe created using a cancer patient’s stem cells and an artificial “scaffold”.
The 36-year-old cancer patient received the organ a month ago at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.
The process involved scientists at University College London, who were given three-dimensional scans of the windpipe of Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, a geology student from Eritrea with an inoperable, cancerous tumour that was obstructing his breathing.
They created a glass mould of the windpipe and his two main bronchial tubes, which was then coated in a polymer containing millions of tiny holes.
It was flown to Sweden where it was “seeded” with stem cells from Mr. Beyene’s bone marrow and placed in a bioreactor for two days to allow the cells to take root. Further cells were taken from his nose to line the windpipe.
Professor Paolo Macchiarini, a Spanish surgeon, carried out the 12-hour transplant operation. He praised the construction technique, which meant that “custom-made” windpipes could be produced within a week.
“This technique does not rely on a human donation,” he was quoted as saying. Mr. Beyene was said to be doing well.