To ease shortage of organs, grow them in a lab?

Stem Cell Research
Posted at 8:09 AM, Jun 17, 2013
and last updated 2014-06-18 11:52:08-04

NEW YORK (AP) — Doctors say it'll be quite some time before solid donor organs like lungs and livers can be grown in a lab, but they're working toward that for the future.

Scientists are hoping that patients eventually won't have to wait months and months on a donor list, like a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl with cystic fibrosis did until she was allowed to receive a donor organ from an adult last week.

Here's the dream scenario: A patient donates cells, either from a biopsy or from blood drawn. A lab would use the cells to seed onto a sort of template that's shaped like the organ needed.

Dr. Harald Ott of Massachusetts General Hospital says that would create an organ that wouldn't be rejected.

Two years ago, a Lewisburg, Pa., girl needed a crucial blood vessel. So researchers built her one in a lab, using cells from her own bone marrow. And just a few weeks ago, a girl in Peoria, Ill., became one of more than a dozen people to get an experimental windpipe that used a synthetic scaffold or template covered in stem cells from her own bone marrow.