Doctors have successfully carried out the world’s first airway transplant on a young woman using an organ partly grown from her own stem cells in a groundbreaking operation which scientists believe will transform the future of surgery.
Surgeons replaced a section of Claudia Castillo’s windpipe, that had been irreparably damaged by tuberculosis, with a donated organ that was stripped of its cells and used as a scaffold for her stem cells.
Because Castillo’s body recognises her own cells in the replacement organ she does not need to take powerful drugs to suppress her immune system, unlike all other transplant patients. The technique raises the prospect of transplants for patients whose organs are damaged by cancer, who then cannot take the drugs as they increase the risk of cancer returning.
Professor Martin Birchall, from Bristol University, which carried out the stem cell engineering, said it would soon be possible to create a range of organs for transplants which patients’ bodies will not reject. “In 20 years, this will be the most common form of surgery,” he said.
Read the article, folks. It holds out great hope for that enormous part of the world’s population younger than an old crank like me.
The sort of breakthrough in medicine not at all surprising to anyone who has spent significant time reading science, appreciating the growing capability of modern medicine to replicate and recreate used-up and damaged portions of this meat machine we walk around in.