From stem cells to new organs: Scientists cross threshold in regenerative medicine

Feb 26, 2009

By now, most people have read stories about how to "grow your own organs" using stem cells is just a breakthrough away. Despite the hype, this breakthrough has been elusive. A new report published in the March 2009 issue of The FASEB Journal brings bioengineered organs a step closer, as scientists from Stanford and New York University Langone Medical Center describe how they were able to use a "scaffolding" material extracted from the groin area of mice on which stem cells from blood, fat, and bone marrow grew. This advance clears two major hurdles to bioengineered replacement organs, namely a matrix on which stem cells can form a 3-dimensional organ and transplant rejection.

"The ability to provide stem cells with a scaffold to grow and differentiate into mature cells could revolutionize the field of organ transplantation," said Geoffrey Gurtner, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery at Stanford University and a senior researcher involved in the work.

To make this advance, Gurtner and colleagues first had to demonstrate that expendable pieces of tissue (called "free flaps") could be sustained in the laboratory. To do this, they harvested a piece of tissue containing blood vessels, fat, and skin from the groin area of rats and used a bioreactor to provide nutrients and oxygen to keep it alive. Then, they seeded the extracted tissue with stem cells before it was implanted back into the animal.

Once the tissue was back in the mice, the stem cells continued to grow on their own and the implant was not rejected. This suggests that if the stem cells had been coaxed into becoming an organ, the organ would have "taken hold" in the animal's body. In addition to engineering the stem cells to form a specific organ around the extracted tissue, they also could be engineered to express specific proteins which allows for even greater potential uses of this technology.

"Myth has its lures, but so does modern science. The notion of using one tissue as the scaffold for another is as old as the Birth of Venus to the Book of Genesis," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Eve may or may not have been formed from Adam's rib, but these experiments show exactly how stem cell techniques can be used to turn one's own tissue into newly-formed, architecturally-sound organs."

More information: Edward I. Chang, Robert G. Bonillas, Samyra El-ftesi, Eric I. Chang, Daniel J. Ceradini, Ivan N. Vial, Denise A. Chan, Joseph Michaels, V, and Geoffrey C. Gurtner. Tissue engineering using autologous microcirculatory beds as vascularized bioscaffolds. FASEB J. 2009 23: 906-915. www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/23/3/906

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Explore further: New class of insecticides offers safer, more targeted mosquito control

Related Stories

Stem cells make similar decisions to humans

21 hours ago

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have captured thousands of progenitor cells of the pancreas on video as they made decisions to divide and expand the organ or to specialize into the endocrine cells that regulate ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new 'transformer frog' in Ecuador

5 hours ago

It doesn't turn into Prince Charming, but a new species of frog discovered in Ecuador has earned the nickname "transformer frog" for its ability to change its skin from spiny to smooth in five minutes.

Longer DNA fragments reveal rare species diversity

6 hours ago

A challenge in metagenomics is that the more commonly used sequencing machines generate data in short lengths, while short-read assemblers may not be able to distinguish among multiple occurrences of the ...

Scientists say polar bears won't thrive on land food

6 hours ago

A group of researchers say polar bears forced off melting sea ice will not find enough food to replace their current diet of fat-laden marine mammals such as seals, a conclusion that contradicts studies indicating ...

The vital question: Why is life the way it is?

7 hours ago

The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? is a new book by Nick Lane that is due out on April 23rd. His question is not one for a static answer but rather one for a series of ever sharper explanations—explanations that a ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.