Clinicians at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden are reporting that they successfully performed the world’s first implantation of a synthetic trachea. The organ was created from a biocompatible scaffold that was seeded with the 36 year old patient’s own stem cells inside a Harvard Bioscience bioreactor.
The patient had been suffering from late stage tracheal cancer. Despite maximum treatment with radiation therapy, the tumor had reached approximately 6 cm in length and was extending to the main bronchus. It was progressing and almost completely blocked the trachea. Since no suitable donor windpipe was available,
the transplantation of the synthetic tissue engineered trachea was performed as the last possible option for the patient, referred by Professor Tomas Gudbjartsson of Landspitali University Hospital (Iceland) who was also part of the surgical team.
Transplantations of tissue engineered windpipes with synthetic scaffolds in combination with the patient’s own stem cells as a standard procedure, means that patients will not have to wait for a suitable donor organ. This would be a substantial benefit for patients since they could benefit from earlier surgery and have a greater chance of cure. In addition to treating adult patients; tissue engineered synthetic trachea transplants would, not least, be of great value for children, since the availability of donor tracheas is much lower than for adult patients.
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*