Scientists from North London hospital grow ears, noses, and blood vessels in the laboratory from stem cells. This team is among several in the world that try to give life to growing organs in the lab.
Only a few patients have received organs such as blood vessels, windpipes and tear ducts produced in this lab, but the scientists hope they will soon expand the list of organs that can be transplanted to include the world's first nose produced partly from stem cells.
The researchers use a special machine to make molds for various organs from a polymer material. Last year they grew a nose for a patient who lost his organ because of cancer. By adding a sugan and salt solution to the mold of the missing organ they produced sponge-like texture of the real nose. They took fat stem cells of the patient which after cultivating in the lab for two weeks were able to cover the scaffold. The researchers then implanted the nose into the man's forearm. The reason for this manipulation was to grow skin on it.
As for now, the team is waiting for approval from regulatory authorities to implant the nose onto the face of the patient.
Apart from the noses, the researchers are growing other organs such as ears and coronary arteries. Later in 2014, the scientists have scheduled trial in India and London that would involve transplantation of lab-made ears to people born without this organ.
Although ears are harder to grow compared with noses, the researchers try to simplify the procedures involved by replacing highly invasive procedure – taking cartilage from the ribs that is being currently used – with less invasive fat stem cells collection from patients' abdomens.
The science world is very excited with such kind of work, as, after producing simpler parts of the body like noses and ears the researchers may turn to kidney, lungs or a liver production.
The author of the research Alexander Seifalian estimated that his research has absorbed $16 million but hopes that organs from the lab would one day only a few hundred dollars.