Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

[H]ardOCP: We Can Now Successfully Transplant Lab-Grown Lungs in Pigs

[H]ardOCP: We Can Now Successfully Transplant Lab-Grown Lungs in Pigs

In some cases, it took as few as two weeks for the lung to grow a strong blood vessel network, the crucial component enabling them to survive.

During the experiment, the pigs' left lungs were transplanted alongside a bioengineered lung.

Six bioengineered lungs were created in total, though only four of the animals received them, due to surgical issues.

Now, in a paper available in Science Translational Medicine, they provide details of how their work has progressed to where no complications have occurred in the pigs as part of standard preclinical testing.

The lungs, which were tissue-matched to each individual pig, were grown in the laboratory. Bioengineered organs are a hopeful solution to this problem, enabling needed organs to be engineered in a lab, then transplanted into the patient.


Lab-grown lungs were successfully transplanted into pigs for the first time. And that could make the transplant waiting list a thing of the past. That could prove invaluable to hospitals, which could end shortages of viable organs and improve their long-term transplant survival rates. 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. This eliminated the cells and blood in the lung, leaving just a lungshaped scaffold of proteins behind. However, even the two-month-old transplanted lung, while not showing any fluid collection that would indicate an underdeveloped organ, had not developed enough to independently supply the animal with oxygen. This is an encouraging advance in the field of organ and tissue transplantation and transplantation.

The researchers said that the focus of the study was to learn how well the bioengineered lung adapted and continued to mature within a large, living body.

"In these studies, we talk about producing human lungs using human scaffolds", Dr Nichols explained.

The researchers said that with enough funding, they could grow lungs to transplant into people in compassionate use circumstances within five to 10 years. Dr Nichols stated. "After 6 months to a year, we can bring the animals back, anesthetize them and block off their normal lung, forcing them to breathe and oxygenate using only the bioengineered lung".

"It has taken a lot of heart and 15 years of research to get us this far, our team has done something incredible with a ridiculously small budget and an amazingly dedicated group of people", they wrote.

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