July 16, 2010
U.S. researchers have created a primitive artificial lung that rats used to breathe for several hours. The device may be a step toward the development of new organs grown from a patient's own cells, the researchers said on Tuesday.
The finding, reported online July 13th in Nature Medicine, is the second in a month from researchers seeking ways to regenerate lungs from ordinary cells.
In the latest study, Dr. Harald Ott and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston removed the cells from rat lungs to leave scaffolds with acellular vasculature, airways and alveoli.
Then they "seeded" the scaffolding with epithelial and endothelial cells to regenerate gas exchange tissue. Next, they simulated the physiologic environment of developing lung in a bioreactor.
By the fifth day, when perfused with blood and ventilated at physiologic pressures the scaffolds "generated gas exchange comparable to that of isolated native lungs," according to the authors.
When implanted in rats, they worked for up to six hours after extubation, although imperfectly.
The researchers said it may be possible to try the experiment with more embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells.
Last month, a team at Yale University in Connecticut implanted engineered lung tissue into rats that helped the animals breathe for two hours.
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