Date: Fri Feb 15 2002 - 14:34:17 MST
A leading surgeon in the US has told BBC News that he is ready to perform the
world's first transplant of an artificially grown organ.
Tissue engineering... should help reduce the number of patients on a
Dr Anthony Atala
Dr Anthony Atala, of the Boston Children's Hospital, says he hopes to put a
laboratory-engineered bladder into a patient once he has obtained the
necessary regulatory approval.
He believes permission for the procedure, which has been pioneered in dogs,
will come within the next few months.
Dr Attalla says that if he is successful with the bladder transplant, he will
attempt to repair damaged hearts with new muscle and possibly even try to
grow a kidney.
"I think over time there will be no limit," Dr Atala said. "I think it is
just a question of figuring out all the different tissue types and cell types
and how they work best, but eventually I think that following the same
strategies just about every organ in the body will be repairable at the very
It was exactly two years ago that a team from the Laboratory for Tissue
Engineering at the Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston
announced that it had successfully implanted six beagle dogs with lab-grown
Tissue samples were taken from the animals' original bladders and these were
used to cultivate the muscle cells and special bladder skin cells, called
urothelial cells, needed to construct the artificial organs.
The multiplying cells were shaped into beagle bladders by bedding them down
over polymer balls. Transplanted into the dogs, these lab-grown organs
allowed the animals to urinate normally.
Dr Atala believes his technique is sufficiently well developed that it could
be used to treat a young child.
A lab-grown bladder could be the answer for a patient whose own organ has
been destroyed by cancer or damaged by an infection or injury.
Dr Atala is seeking approval for human trials from the US Food and Drug
Although tissue engineering has huge potential, Dr Atala believes there will
always be a need for donor organs. "I think tissue engineering is just
another solution but it should help reduce the number of patients on a
And, he believes, tissue engineering will prove to be a useful ally to the
emerging field of stem cell medicine, in which "young" cells are injected
into ailing tissue to regenerate it.
"For example, with a patient who has a failing heart, where obviously it
would be very hard to get a biopsy because they would not tolerate the
procedure; then I think stem cells would be the ideal answer."
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:39 MST