Lab-grown human spare parts to make organ donation pass?
London, May 6 (ANI): A team of researchers is focusing on growing replacement organs and body parts using a patient's own cells.
Alexander Seifalian's lab is little more than a series of worn wooden desktops strewn with beakers, solutions, taps, medical jars, tubing and paperwork, and looks like a school chemistry lab.
But it's from here that Seifalian leads University College London's (UCL) Department of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine, which he jokingly calls the "human body parts store".
"We are the first in the world working on this," the Daily Mail quoted Seifalian as saying.
"We can make a metre every 20 seconds if we need to," he said.
Looking like very thin Latex rubber, the polymer is made up of billions of molecules, each measuring just over one nanometre (a billionth of a metre), or 40,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Working at molecular level allows the material itself to be intricately detailed.'Inside this nanomaterial are thousands of small holes.
"Tissue grows into these and becomes part of it. It becomes the same as a nose and will even feel like one," Seifalian said.
When the nose is transferred to the patient, it doesn't go directly onto the face but will be placed inside a balloon inserted beneath the skin on their arm.
After four weeks, during which time skin and blood vessels can grow, the nose can be monitored, then it can be transplanted to the face.
At the cutting edge of modern medicine, Seifalian and his team are focusing on growing replacement organs and body parts to order using a patient's own cells. There would be no more waiting for donors or complex reconstruction - just a quick swap.
And because the organ is made from the patient's own cells, the risk of rejection should, in theory, be eliminated.
Unsurprisingly, the recipe for the breakthrough biocompatible material used is a closely guarded secret.
"UCL has already spent 100,000 pounds on patents for the nanomaterials from this laboratory," he said.
From those who have lost noses to cancer to others mutilated by injury, it is hoped this revolutionary process could transform thousands of lives.
"We seed the patient's own cells on to the polymer inside a bioreactor," Adelola Oseni, one of Seifalian's team, said.
This is a sterile environment mirroring the human body's temperature, blood and oxygen supply.
"As the cells take hold and multiply, so the polymer becomes coated. The same methods could be applied to all parts of the face to reconstruct those of people who have had severe facial traumas," Oseni said.
This progress grew out of controversial stem-cell research. While some scientists still use embryonic stem cells, Seifalian and his team now create the cells they need - cartilage-building ones in the case of the nose - from bone marrow cells taken from the patient.
This process is revolutionary, and it is still not known for certain whether years down the line these cells might perhaps be rejected.
"The full success of these implants needs to be tested with a larger number of patients in clinical trials," Seifalian added. (ANI)
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