Tissue engineering: Scientist grow body parts to implant in patients

It is pretty obvious that the chances of a body accepting a tissue or part from its own are greater, than a donation. There have been two cases reported where scientists grew reproductive organs and nasal cartilage in labs, and were able to successfully implant them in patients. So far no complications have been reported, which is always a cause of concern in such cases, indicating a very positive step in tissue engineering.

As reported in The Lancet, scientists in the United States, Mexico and Switzerland grew reproductive organs and nasal cartilage in labs. These were then successfully implanted in patients, thus taking Tissue Engineering beyond repair to replacement. Let us look at the first study that involves a group of four teenage patients born with a missing or deformed uterus or similar dysfunction. All these conditions conform to a rare condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-K├╝ster-Hauser Syndrome.

The scientists began by recreating their reproductive systems using a 3-D scaffold that images the dimensions of the missing organs. Small samples of muscle and tissue were taken from the subjects and cells were extracted. These autologous cells were used to engineer the tissue and then "seeded" across the surfaces of the 3-D scaffolds and grown outside the body. Once implanted, the organ scaffold melts into the body and absorbed while the seeded cells continue to thrive and grow stronger. The chances of them getting rejected are slim, as the body recognises it as a part of its own.

In this present study, four patents indicated normal levels of desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and painless intercourse. Two of them even reported getting their period, which means there is ovulation and the chances of them getting pregnant. In the second study that took place in Switzerland, five people whose noses were damaged by skin cancer, had their nostrils rebuilt using nasal cartilage cells.

The important part of this study is that the body is not rejecting engineered parts and post-implant complications have been virtually non-existent. Autologous cells prevent the body from rejecting the organs as foreign parts. Having said that, the study sample size is too small to make it a generalised thumb-rule or conclusive, however it does raise our hopes for the future.