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Researchers Transplant Tissue-Engineered Airway

Effective functional tissue and organ replacements may help treat serious clinical disorders

THURSDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have successfully replaced an airway passage using bioengineered tissue and cellular grafts in a patient with serious bronchial illness, according to an article published online Nov. 19 in The Lancet.

Paolo Macchiarini, M.D., of Hospital Clinic Department of General Thoracic Surgery in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues successfully removed HLA antigens from a donor matrix. Using a novel bioreactor suitable for in vitro engineering of long airway grafts, the donor matrix was then readily colonized by the epithelial cells and chondrogenic mesenchymal stem cells of a patient with end-stage bronchomalacia. The researchers then replaced the recipient's left main bronchus with this graft.

The findings indicate that after four months the tissue transplant was indistinguishable from the surrounding bronchial mucosa, in terms of functional and mechanical properties. The patient is not on any immunosuppressive regimen, nor did she manifest any anti-donor HLA antibodies.

"The results show that a cellular, tissue-engineered airway can be produced with mechanical properties that allow normal functioning, and which is free from the risks of rejection. This patient provides new evidence that autologous cells combined with appropriate biomaterials might provide, in future, successful functional solutions for serious clinical disorders," the authors write.

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