Bioartificial graft could be the next step for transplant ready replacement limbs that are lab grown.
A new experiment conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston under the supervision of Dr. Harald Ott was successfully announced in the Biomaterials journal. The results indicated that the technique of growing bioartificial limbs conducted on animal tissues was thoroughly efficient.
In the United States there are 1.5 million people who have lost a limb. Currently, they have the option provided by prosthetic limbs, yet these robotic like functional replacements have their limitations.
Another option is represent by limb transplants from donors. The risks associated with this option target a lifelong immunosuppressive response.
If the results of the experiment conducted on animals were to be transplanted to humans, they would yield far better solutions for those who are suffering from losing any of their limbs.
The process would entail that the patient’s own cells are grafted in order to artificially regenerate tissue for a new arm or leg. Inconsistencies still remain as to the matrix needed to create this new tissue.
The experiment of the Massachusettes General Hospital in close cooperation with the Center for Regenerative Medicine was not the first attempt of the sort. Previously, Dr. Ott reported, the Department of Surgery was able to regenerate kidneys and other internal organs such as heart, lungs or livers.
The methodology implied the same as in the case of limb regeneration. A detergent solution is used to strip all living cells from the organ or limb. Following, the organ or limb is repopulated with progenitor cells that regenerate the tissue.
Limb regeneration is however much more complex. Initially, the experiment was conducted with rat limbs. The limbs were kept in the detergent solution for one week. Afterwards, with the vasculature and nerves intact they were preserved to recreate the composite tissue of the limb.
Both muscle and vascular cells were added to the stripped limb in a bioreactor.
Following the injection of muscle and vascular cells, the limb was exposed to electrical stimulation for 5 days, thus enhancing the formation of muscles. 2 weeks later the limb was extracted from the bioreactor.
Exhibiting 80 percent of the strength usually exhibited by a newborn rat, the limbs that were transplanted into rats quickly adapted to the new environment. Blood circulated accordingly and electrostimulation showed joints reacting normally.
This experiment was followed by a an experiment conducted on baboon forearms. It was successful and it could yield a successful strategy for transposing the technique to human patients.
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