The Mad Science of Lab-Grown Lungs
Finding stories medically relevant to this site on science fiction blogs is always entertaining.
In this instance, I’m talking about io9’s fascinating piece on the first lab-grown lungs that actually work.
The creation process:
Led by biomedical engineer Laura Niklason, a team at Yale constructed the tiny lungs for rats using a relatively new process called “decellularization.” By rinsing organs in detergent, all the cellular material is washed away, leaving behind a fibrous, white structure that can be used as a scaffold to build organs out of fetal cells. The researchers used decellularized lung scaffolds, and grew new lungs with “a mixture” of fetal rat cells which formed tissues and blood vessels while the scaffolds were inside a bioreactor.
The lungs developed and then worked more or less like real ones, and by “worked,” I mean lab rats could actually breathe with them for a couple of hours.
Scientists have plenty of major kinks to work out, but future implications for organ transplantation could be huge.