Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Transplants grown from patients' own cells

Science fiction writer Larry Niven had a series of stories focused on "organlegging," the practice of selling organs for transplants on the black market. The idea was that with demand growing faster than supply, a hefty profit could be made selling parts. It even resulted in some draconian societies building up banks of organs taken from petty criminals. I always thought this was nonsense, because we'd have better ways of getting organs before any of that came to pass.

It seems I was right. For the first time, doctors grew replacement bladders for seven patients by culturing their own cells on a bladder-shapped scaffold. The result? A new, fully-functional bladder with no chance of rejection. Dr. Anthony Atala and his team, the group behind the procedure, are working on growing twenty other organs, including hearts, in the laboratory.

1 comment:

  1. Apparently solid tissue organs present some new challenges. That's what "The Economist" Technology Quarterly said, anyway. Y'know, there's a lot in their TQ that would be very blogworthy over at "The Technoprogressive." I should get around to that.