Friday, July 30, 2010

Windpipes made with Adult Stem Cells Help Cancer Patients

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from Family Research Council Blog

Italian doctors have announced the use of patients’ own adult stem cells to fabricate new tracheas for two cancer patients. The surgical team was led by Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, has used this technique in prior surgeries, though not for cancer patients. The two patients were a 31-year-old Czech woman with a 6-month-old son, and a 19-year-old British woman. The surgeries took place on July 3 and 13, and both patients are in good condition and have been released from the hospital in Florence just weeks after the surgery. The hospital said that the British woman was speaking after only three or four days.

To grow a new trachea, the doctors started with a donor trachea and removed all of the cells. The cartilage scaffold left after the procedure was then bathed in the patient’s bone marrow adult stem cells prior to transplantation. Over a period of 2-3 months the adult stem cells cover the scaffold with new tissue, grown within the body of the patient. Using the patient’s own adult stem cells removes any problems with tissue rejection. According to Dr. Walter Giovannini, director of the AOU Careggi hospital where the surgeries took place:

“This is a unique solution for a problem that had none, except the death of the patient.”

Dr. Macchiarini told the press conference in Florence that the procedure could in the future be applied to other organs.

“I’m thinking about the larynx or surgeries involving lungs.”

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