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A boy in England has received the first organ transplant that will grow inside the patient's body using their own stem cells.   (Source: PA)
The era of replaceable organs is drawing near

Mankind is close to defying nature and extending human beings' life spans tens of years by using replacement organs.  The key to this progress is stem cells, the same kind of cells that differentiated to form your original tissues.

In England, a 10-year-old boy received a groundbreaking tracheal transplant at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.  The windpipe -- a flexible tube that connects the nose, mouth and lungs -- was replaced with an organ that will grow inside the boy's own body using the boy's own stem cells.

The story began when the boy was born with long segment tracheal stenosis, a debilitating condition that leaves the victim with a 1 mm wide airway, which can lead to suffocation and death.  Doctors tried to treat the condition with stents, but the stents collapsed, cutting off the boy's airflow and damaging his aorta.  After the boy almost stopped breathing, his doctors contacted Paolo Macchiarini, from Careggi University Hospital, Florence.

Macchiarini decided to try an ambitious and risky approach that had never before been successfully performed -- regrowing the organ in the boy's own body using stem cells.  Leading a Italian, British and Spanish team, the researchers first took a donor windpipe and stripped it of all cells to prevent immune response.

The procedure has begun with a successful implant.  Seeded with the boy's stem cells and a cocktail of growth-promoting chemicals, the tissue was implanted into the boy last Week.  The boy responded well, breathing normally and speaking soon after the operation.

Professor Martin Birchall, head of translational regenerative medicine at University College London called the procedure a "milestone moment" and pointed out that by allowing the boy's own cells to regrow the tissue, the cost was dramatically lowered to "tens of thousands pounds rather than hundreds of thousands."  

He states, "We believe it’s a real milestone.  It is the first time a child has received stem-cell organ treatment, and it’s the longest airway that has ever been replaced. I think the technique will allow not just highly specialized hospitals to carry out stem-cell organ transplants. We don’t think it’s going to replace conventional transplants just yet, but already there are certain aspects of conventional transplant surgery it can be applied to. We need to think about how to make regenerative medicine a key part of our healthcare."

The work follows other significant work two years ago in Spain where Claudia Castillo, 30, became the first person to receive a portion of trachea regrown with stem cells.  That transplant, however, was a much shorter tract of trachea and was much more expensive as it was grown outside the body in a special bioreactor.

The researchers are looking forward to advancing the treatment aggressively, perhaps next performing larynx or oesophagus stem cell transplants.

Despite this optimism, it still remains to be seen whether the boy's recovery is as successful as anticipated.  Given Castillo's success, though, the boy is expected to make a full recovery.  And with that recovery mankind will move one step closer to immortality.

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RE: Medicine or de-evolution of our species?
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 7:09:56 PM , Rating: 2
Huh? Mean income in the US is $35K per person...but that's calculated over your working lifespan. Over your total lifespan, it's less than $25K per year.

Money and resources are not synonyms. The percentage of the population that works to generate food, fresh water, utilities, medicine, all the "necessities" of life, has become stupidly small versus earlier ages. If you want to talk about how much money people make per year, you're including designer clothes, Gucci bags, Ray-bands, Mercedes SLK's...

On healthcare alone , per-capita spending is some $8K per year. Meaning that, even if we ignore food, clothing, housing, transportation, education, and all other expenses, we are already to the point where one working person can only support 2 others.

You're observing a bunch of particulars without establishing these things as inherent aspects of existence. Housing? Didn't we just suffer a crash because of the real estate bubble? Yeah, people buying overpriced homes they can barely afford for trendy and superficial reasons says a whole lot about evolution and our genes, doesn't it?

RE: Medicine or de-evolution of our species?
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 7:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
"Money and resources are not synonyms. "

Money is a metric we use to measure resources. A rough metric at times, but that doesn't change the point.

None of the rest of your doublespeak post has any bearing on the conclusion. You also shied away -- yet again -- from answering my question. Why are you afraid of it? What happens when the amount of resources the average citizen generates is less than what they require in health support? Does everyone then still "deserve" unlimited health care?

By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 7:32:03 PM , Rating: 2
Money is a metric we use to measure resources.

And by using that metric you only help my point: That artificial criteria, created by the environment of our societies. You are only observing the factors that have resulted in our direct hand having a greater role in our species' development than the evolutionary forces that initially created us.

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