Organ regeneration ("bio artificial" replacement organs) and tissue regeneration were the subject of a three-part series in the New York Times this week. (All by Henry Fountain, under the broader heading, "Body Builders.")
Organ regeneration and other aspects of regenerative medicine form one of the strands in my technothriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH.
Just how organ regeneration (also termed tissue engineering) fits into A REMEDY FOR DEATH I'll skip here now, but it is interesting to see the Times picking up on the possibilities--- which I've been following for quite a long time. (Since way back 20-plus years ago when I first got the idea for the book.) I'll be posting more of my research and idea sources here in various posts.
In the first article in that NYTimes series link to that NYTimes article, "A First: Organs Tailor-Made With Body's Own Cells," the focus is on how a bioartificial windpipe was generated for a patient in Iceland. (The work was primarily done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, heaed by Dr. Paolo Macchiarini.)
The tissue engineering project began by creating a "scaffold" to hold the stem cells that would be implanted. (In a dozen or so earlier tissue regeneration projects, windpipes from cadavers were implanted to serve as the scaffold. But there are problems with that approach, among them finding the right size windpipe.)
So in this case, they created a synthetic scaffold, using plastic polymers. It was a perfect fit, as it had been custom-created for this patient. But that was only part of the challenge.
The next part was getting tissue to grow around that scaffold. I'll leave you to the article for that, except to say that they used the patient's own stem cells as "seeds", which worked well, and hence there was no need to use drugs to fight off rejection, as there would have been had cells from another person been used.
That part went well, but not exactly as planned. Organ regeneration -- tissue growth -- proceded, but in a different way than expected. Dr. Macchiarini, leader of the project, said, "We are far away from understanding the process. Far, far away."
Dr. Macchiarini's "ultimate dream is to eliminate even the synthetic scaffold. Instead, drugs would enable the body to rebuild its own scaffold." As he put it, the ideal would be if we "don't touch the patient. Just use his body to regenerate his own organ. It would be fantastic."
That New York Times article again.
My technothriller via Amazon, A REMEDY FOR DEATH -- Playing God with Body, Soul, and Bio-tech.