British and Italian doctors have transplanted a new trachea into a pediatric patient. However, instead of receiving a normal donor organ, the patient became the first child to receive an organ created using his own stem cells. And, if successful, experts believe it could lead to a revolution in regenerative medicine, the Irish Times reports.
The donated trachea was stripped of the donor's cells, and the recipient's bone marrow stem cells were collected and applied to the graft in situ in the body. The child's own cells will be used to make the new airway, according to a statement from the Great Ormond Street Hospital. And, over the next month, doctors expect the stem cells to begin transforming themselves within the boy's body into internal and external tracheal cells. The boy is said to be doing well and breathing normally, according to the Irish Times.
The doctors who carried out the procedure say the technique has greatly reduced the risk of rejection of the new trachea, as the child's stem cells would not generate any immune response. This is the longest airway replaced so far--the first windpipe transplant using stem cells was performed in 2008 on an adult, but only part of her airway was replaced, according to BioNews.