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Science Fiction Comes Alive as Researchers Grow Organs in Lab.

By GAUTAM NAIK 22nd March 2013.    Find Full Article and Video Here:-

Building a complex human organ in the lab is no longer a dream of science fiction. At London’s Royal Free Hospital, a team of 30 scientists is manufacturing a variety of body parts, including windpipes, noses and ears. WSJ’s Gautam Naik reports. Photo: Gareth Phillips

MADRID—Reaching into a stainless steel tray, Francisco Fernandez-Aviles lifted up a gray, rubbery mass the size of a fat fist.

It was a human cadaver heart that had been bathed in industrial detergents until its original cells had been washed away and all that was left was what scientists call the scaffold.

Next, said Dr. Aviles, “We need to make the heart come alive.”

Inside a warren of rooms buried in the basement of Gregorio Marañón hospital here, Dr. Aviles and his team are at the sharpest edge of the bioengineering revolution that has turned the science-fiction dream of building replacement parts for the human body into a reality.

Since a laboratory in North Carolina made a bladder in 1996, scientists have built increasingly more complex organs. There have been five windpipe replacements so far. A London researcher, Alex Seifalian, has transplanted lab-grown tear ducts and an artery into patients. He has made an artificial nose he expects to transplant later this year in a man who lost his nose to skin cancer.

“The work has been extraordinarily pioneering,” said Sir Roy Calne, an 82-year-old British surgeon who figured out in the 1950s how to use drugs to prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs.

Now, with the quest to build a heart, researchers are tackling the most complex organ yet. The payoff could be huge, both medically and financially, because so many people around the world are afflicted with heart disease. Researchers see a multi-billion-dollar market developing for heart parts that could repair diseased hearts and clogged arteries.

In additional to the artificial nose, Dr. Seifalian is making cardiovascular body parts. He sees a time when scientists would grow the structures needed for artery bypass procedures instead of taking a vein from another part the body. As part of a clinical trial, Dr. Seifalian plans to transplant a bioengineered coronary artery into a person later this year. His employer, University College London, has designated a person to oversee any future commercialization of it and other man-made organs.

The development of lab-built body parts is being spurred by a shortage of organ donors amid rising demand for transplants. Also, unlike patients getting transplants, recipients of lab-built organs won’t have to take powerful anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. That’s because the bioengineered organs are built with the patients’ own cells.

Until the late 1980s, few scientists believed it would be possible to make human organs because it was a struggle to grow human cells in the laboratory. The task became easier once scientists figured out the chemicals—known as growth factors—that the body itself uses to promote cellular growth.

Scientists started out growing simple organs. In 1999, Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., implanted lab-grown bladders into the first of several children with severely dysfunctional bladders. The organs have continued to function well for several years. Dr. Atala’s team now is trying to grow a whole range of bioengineered parts, from simple blood vessels to human livers.

“You can see the acceleration in the field,” Dr. Atala said.

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  1. April 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm

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  2. May 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Reblogged this on Regenerating a Life and commented:
    Dr. Anthony Atala and his colleagues are changing the the scepticism that has consistently been a challenging factor in furthering the advancement of Regenerative Medicine via Stem Cell Research…

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