(CNN) — For the first time, a patient has received a synthetic windpipe that was created in a lab with the patient’s own stem cells and without using human donor tissue, researchers said Thursday.
After the patient’s initial diagnosis in 2008, he had exhausted every treatment available, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, Macchiarini said. The patient, an Eritrean who had been studying in Iceland, is the subject of a BBC documentary airing Thursday in Sweden.His tumor had almost blocked his windpipe, doctors said.Rather than waiting for a transplant, his doctors suggested growing an organ. Scientists created a Y-shaped framework for the new trachea, modeling it after the specific shape of the patient’s windpipe.The form was made of polymers that had a spongy and flexible texture. Stiff rings around the tube mimicked the structure of a human trachea.The form was then bathed in a solution containing the patient’s stem cells “to get the cells to grow on the sponge material,” said David Green, president of Harvard Bioscience. Stem cells can divide and turn into a range of cell types, including those in organs.
This is the artificial trachea, covered in the patient’s cells…The purpose was to “seed” the synthetic windpipe — as you would seed a new lawn — to grow on the structure.”Stem cells from the own patient were growing inside and outside,” Macchiarini said. “This structure was becoming a living structure.”The stem cells were given physical or chemical cues to create the desired type, Green said. Once the cells were thriving on the form, the artificial trachea was implanted into the patient.His body accepted the new trachea, and he even had a cough reflex two days after the surgery, Macchiarini said.Three years ago, Macchiarini made headlines by implanting an artificial trachea created from donor tissue combined with stem cells from the recipient, Claudia Castillo, whose windpipe had been damaged by tuberculosis.