Saturday, March 13, 2010

Artificial Organs

For the thousands of people that suffer from organ failure there may be a new hope on the horizon. Today doctors and and biomedical scientists have developed a way to actually regrow healthy tissue. Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have successfully grown hearts, kidneys, parts of fingers, and ears. However the most successful organ to be generated artificially has been the bladder. Every organ has its own special stem cells specifically unique to that body part. When scientists are able to isolate the cells, the cells begin to multiply. Meanwhile, the scientists create an exact mold of the bladder. Once the scientists have grown a sufficient number of bladder cells from the stem cells they begin to layer the cells onto the mold. The mold dissolves over time as the cells continue to grow. One amazing thing about artificial organs is that because they are made from the patients own cells there is much less of a change that they body will reject the organ. Rejection can often be a major problem with transplant that often requires drugs that take a harsh toll on the body. There is a special "pixie dust" found in pigs bladders called ecm or extracellular matrix that when placed that encourage grow of healthy tissues. It has been used to regrew muscle and to ensure the sucess of hands transplants.
People die every single day waiting for an organ and this could potentially give them an organ mere weeks that they discover that they need the new organ. The biggest problem with regenerative medicine is that there is still a huge question mark next to it. There are so many trials to be done and the bladder has really been the only successful human transplant of an artificial organ. Scientists still worry about how to control growth of the new tissues within the body etc, and many still question man's right to "play god". However, in the case of regenerative medicine, the promise seems to far outweigh the problems.

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