A synthetic windpipe grown in a lab was transplanted into a live patient. The windpipe was grown from stem cells harvested from the patient's hips.
The patient suffered from late stage tracheal cancer. Despite radiation therapy, the tumor had grown approximately 6 cm in length and was extending to the bronchus, according to Karolinska University Hospital, which performed the operation.
If he didn't get a new windpipe, he would die. Since he didn't have a suitable donor, scientists grew one for him from stem cells harvested from his own hips.
They harvested the stem cells, planted them on synthetic scaffolds, and used chemical cues to induce them to grow into a windpipe.
This tried and true technique has allowed scientists to grow many human organs. However, the Karolinska operation was the first successful transplant of a stem cell-grown organ into a live patient.
This success story potentially opens up for a much better way of organ transplants.
The scientists claim the synthetic stem cell windpipe was grown within two days or one week, so it's fast. Also, because it's grown from the patient's own cells, there is no risk of transplant rejection by the patient's immune system.
Perhaps most importantly, it solves the number one obstacle of organ transplants (for many cases), which is the inability to find a suitable donor.