Own stem cells save woman’s lung
A woman has become the first person in the world to be given an entirely laboratory-engineered organ in a landmark operation that could change the face of transplant surgery.
Claudia Castillo’s own stem cells were used to create an artificial airway which replaced the bronchus to her left lung which had collapsed after she suffered a serious tuberculosis infection.
The 30-year-old Columbian-born mother-of-two is also believed to be the first transplant patient not to need powerful drugs to subdue the immune system.
Even though she received no immunosuppressive drugs, so far doctors have seen no hint of Ms Castillo’s immune system rejecting the transplant.
Researchers from the UK, Italy and Spain worked together to grow tissue from Ms Castillo’s own bone marrow stem cells, use them to fashion a new bronchus – a branch of the trachea or windpipe – and carry out the transplant operation.
Without the pioneering operation in June, Ms Castillo’s lung would have been removed by surgeons.
The scientists believe in years to come the same approach will be used to create engineered replacements for other damaged organs, such as the bowel, bladder or reproductive tract.