In another leap forward for regenerative/transplant medicine, an international team of surgeons working in Russia have for the first time transplanted completely synthetic pieces of larynx into two patients in procedures that mark the first steps toward creating and transplanting an entire larynx from scratch.
There are currently 114,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the U.S., and roughly 7,000 of them die every year while awaiting a donor organ to become available. Meanwhile, there are 161 million Americans on Facebook. That math must have seemed pretty simple to Mark Zuckerberg and company at Facebook HQ, where the team has just added organ donation status to its users’ profiles.
Transplanting a kidney is a dicey enough proposition at first go, so the fact that Northwestern University doctors have transplanted the same kidney twice is nothing short of remarkable. Working under a set of extenuating circumstances, the surgeons transplanted the kidney twice in two weeks, and the final recipient--the third person to claim ownership of the organ--is reportedly doing well.
Researchers in Cleveland have built an artificial lung that is so efficient it can breathe regular air rather than the pure oxygen required by current artificial lungs. The technology makes possible the idea of a man-made lung that is far more portable--and possibly implantable--for the nearly 200 million people suffering from some degree of lung disease.
In the U.S., people needing a new lung wait more than a year on average for an organ. That's often too long—237 people on the transplant list died in 2009. Recent advances in cell regeneration, however, could someday allow a patient to "donate" a healthy lung to himself in just a month.
Liver disease is the 12th-leading cause of death in the U.S., chiefly because once it's determined that a patient needs a new liver it's very difficult to get one. Even in cases where a suitable donor match is found, there's no guarantee a transplant will be successful. But researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have taken a huge step toward building functioning livers in the lab, successfully transplanting culture-grown livers into rats.
MIT researchers have made assembling artificial organs look like child's play by devising a novel approach to tissue engineering that encapsulates living cells in polymer cubes and assembles them like Lego blocks. The method, which requires no highly specialized equipment, could overcome major obstacles in artificial organ manufacture, making it possible to assemble complex 3-D structures out of living tissue cells.
Staying alive on the organ transplant waiting list could get a bit easier with organs that last longer outside the body. That's the hope of Harvard startup Hibergenica, which looks to commercialize a liquid solution that preserves the metabolism of hearts and livers for about 10 days, Technology Review reports.
When most people hear the phrase "organ transplantation," they generally think of allotransplantation, that is, the transplantation of organs from one person (allo=other) to a second person. Transplanted organs may come from a cadaver, as in heart transplants, or from a living donor, as with some kidney and liver transplants. Allotransplantation requires the use of immunosuppressive drugs. Patients who receive donor organs must take a special medication regimen for the rest of their lives to prevent their bodies from rejecting the "foreign" donor organs.