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New Research on Lungs

Re-grown lungs a breath of fresh air for respiratory diseases

In a one-of-a-kind, first-time experiment, US scientists have re-grown a viable lung that could be successfully and dramatically be implanted into a rat. In writings from Science, the journal, Thomas Petersen , a Yale researcher and his fellows colleagues, illustrate the style, which ma, re in the possible future provide genetically-compatible pairs of lungs for people with pulmonary disease and damage caused by pulmonary illnesses or smoking.

The researchers used lung tissue obtained from rats, which they manipulated with detergent to remove all of the lung’s cells. What remained was a lung-shaped scaffold of reinforced tissue, which was then submersed in a culture vessel of nutrient solution and “planted/seeded” with lung cells from other donor rats. Astonishingly, within 7 days, the cells had re-grown over the framework provided by the foundation tissue, giving birth to the full sequence of cells normally found in an adult lung, including all lining cells of the airways and even cells that produce a substance called surfactant, which is the chemical that effectively keeps the small airways open.

The conclusive pulmonary coup-de-gras, however, happened when the team transplanted the new, re-generated lungs into four rats, effectively connecting blood vessels and airways to those of the receiving animal. The new, genetically re-grown lungs efficiently oxygenated blood for up to two hours.

Although this small study is at an early stage, this research suggests that the same technique could be used to provide genetically-compatible lungs for people with respiratory diseases. First, by replacing the cells in a donor lung with those from the recipient donor, it might be possible to avoid the problems of organ/immune-rejection, which plague current lung transplant recipients. The ultimate goal for researchers, though, is to scientifically work out how to make the nearby, supporting bodily structures functional. Then, a complete set of all-new lungs and supporting structures can become a reality.