By Kayla Santos
Using stem cells, scientists at London’s Royal Free hospital have been able to create body parts including noses, ears and even blood vessels. The organs have even been used in replacement surgeries for a small number of patients so far. Scaffolds for the organs are made from a type of polymer material; the stem cells from the patient are grown in lab and then placed on the scaffold. In one specific case, a patient who lost his nose to cancer, the scaffold with the stem cells was implanted into the patients forearm to allow skin to grow over it. The nose was then removed and transplanted on the patient’s face.
There are many benefits to using lab grown organs the first being that the organ would be grown using the patient’s own cells, decreasing the chance of rejection. Also, it limits the invasiveness of having to remove cartilage and fat from other parts of the body. One of the concerns with the new procedure is the possibility of the scaffold coming out of the skin. The procedure is still experimental but scientists hope to make it a primary procedure in the near future. The process is being studied in multiple labs around the world, including the U.S.
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