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posted by mrpg on Friday August 03 2018, @02:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the fresh-hope dept.

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

In the US alone, more than 1,400 people are waiting for a lung transplant - there simply aren't enough donor lungs available to meet the need. Soon, though, patients might have a new source for brand new lungs: the lab.

[...] To grow the lungs, the researchers first created four lung scaffolds. To do this, they removed all of the cells and blood from pig lungs using a mix of sugar and detergent. This left them with just the proteins of each lung - essentially, its skeleton.

Next, they placed each scaffold in a tank containing a special mix of nutrients. They then added cells from recipient pigs' own lungs to each of the scaffolds and let the lungs grow for 30 days. Finally, they transplanted the four lab-grown lungs into the four recipient pigs.

Within two weeks, the transplanted lungs had already begun to establish the robust networks of blood vessels they need to survive.

Source: Bioengineered Lungs Grown in a Lab Successfully Transplanted Into Living Pigs


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:24AM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:24AM (#716539)

    n/t

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday August 03 2018, @04:17AM (7 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday August 03 2018, @04:17AM (#716551) Journal

    Honestly, this seems a lot harder to get right than an artificial womb. Lab-grown organs for transplant are just a much bigger research priority, and the one thing everybody can come up with when they think of bioengineering.

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    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:56PM (6 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:56PM (#716767)

      Yeah, I guess given that IANAMD, I really have no idea the relative complexity of various organs. All that I really know is that feminism has assured me that the womb is the most complex body part evar, involving mystical, fourth dimensional metaphysical... stuff.

      And truth be told, we need lungs, hearts, livers, and kidneys a lot more. Imagine if we could grow new bone marrow [nature.com]. There are wonders ahead. Well, provided they're ever available to the masses and not just those Elysium people and the folks that live on top of that big building in Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday August 03 2018, @05:06PM (4 children)

        by HiThere (866) on Friday August 03 2018, @05:06PM (#716801) Journal

        It's not the most complicated, but it's far from the simplest. Lungs are complex, but reasonably uniform, and they're using a pre-built scaffold, which handles a lot of the complexity. So they're probably a lot simpler.

        That said, I'm not sure how the handled the muscle attachments...were they created with the lungs, or did they depend on the pig supplying those? The summary wasn't clear, but I'd guess that the muscles were supplied by the pig. This wouldn't work at all for a uterus.

        When they can make artificial kidneys and eyes, then the uterus may be plausible. Maybe. But both of those can be created dependent on external muscle attachments. An artificially grown heart might be a better waypoint. That has the same kind of internal muscular structure (well, it's a different kind of muscle, but...) and it's sensitive to external control by nerves, and it's sensitive to endocrine hormones. And it's simpler than the uterus. But it's just a little bit critical. (Well, lungs aren't?)

        The thing is, growing muscles is very different than growing most structures, because they need to be exercised while growing. There's bound to be some way to handle this (stimulated iso-metric exercises?) but I haven't read a report of anyone doing this yet. (Talk to the people building artificial steaks. They've got to deal with this problem.)

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        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday August 03 2018, @07:22PM (3 children)

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday August 03 2018, @07:22PM (#716911) Journal

          artificial womb (aka uterus) != lab-grown uterus

          The first is a machine that contains and grows a fetus. It does not have to be biological in nature.

          It might look something like this [soylentnews.org] (images are included in the open access paper [nature.com]).

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          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Friday August 03 2018, @07:37PM (2 children)

            by HiThere (866) on Friday August 03 2018, @07:37PM (#716925) Journal

            While your objection has validity, it's not exactly related to the article being commented upon.

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            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday August 03 2018, @10:46PM (1 child)

              by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday August 03 2018, @10:46PM (#717011) Journal

              It's what this thread is 'bout, and it was in your comment.

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              • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday August 04 2018, @01:19AM

                by HiThere (866) on Saturday August 04 2018, @01:19AM (#717050) Journal

                As I understood the thread it was about artificial organs grown from cells and implanted in the body, with a side note about immune system rejection of foreign cells. An external device wouldn't fit.

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      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday August 03 2018, @07:18PM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday August 03 2018, @07:18PM (#716908) Journal

        For the artificial womb, you need a liquid environment and the ability to exchange nutrients, hormones, etc. with the fetus. The actual "womb" can be a relatively simple machine. Maybe handling of the umbilical cord is the hardest part?

        For a lab-grown organ, you are using the patient's own cells or DNA to start production. You will presumably grow an entire organ outside of the body although there has been some work on growing these organs inside of pigs. One big problem is getting all of the blood vessels to grow within your scaffolding so that you can have a full, working organ instead of a tiny blob organlet. And at the end of the day, you will still need to perform surgery on the patient to integrate this new organ.

        BTW, Here's a fun, long article: http://bostonreview.net/gender-sexuality/merve-emre-all-reproduction-assisted [bostonreview.net]

        Obviously, artificial wombs will trigger a lot of butthurt, but their development can't be easily suppressed by feminists or evangelicals simply because they can be "a lifesaving device for premature babies". Devices that work for the full term will probably be created by the cattle industry. Some group of researchers out there will finish the job and create a full-blown artificial womb that relieves women of the burden of childbirth, while greatly reducing their reproductive bargaining power (which will eventually be reduced to near-zero once we have the ability to create designer embryos synthetically).

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