In this case, the transplanted lungs were integrated into the body and grew normally, the researchers say.
All the animals that received the bio-artificial lung remained healthy for up to two months. They then regenerated the lung over the course of a month using the recipient pig's cells to create biological tissue that the pig's immune system will see as its own.
Recently, scientists have successfully engineered a lung explicitly made for the pig it was transplanted into by using cells from that exact pig and a type of donated organic scaffolding to create support for the lung tissue.
The doctors are hoping that within a decade, lab-grown human lungs will be transplanted into patients to save them from chronic lung diseases, cystic fibrosis and anything that threatens life and lungs. Lung transplants are particularly problematic, with the number of people requiring one increasing worldwide, while the number of available transplantable organs has decreased. Imagine hospitals growing replacement organs for humans in the future. Our ultimate goal is ultimately to provide new choices for the many people waiting for a transplant, "Nicole said". To create this, the researchers used a lung from an unrelated animal that was treated with a special cocktail of sugar and detergent.
In order to produce a bio-engineered lung, a support scaffold is needed that meets structural needs of a lung. Blood vessels and lung tissue cells were "repopulated", according to Science News.More news: Saudi-led coalition condemns 'terrorist act' carried out by Houthis in Hodeidah
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"In these studies, we talk about producing human lungs using human scaffolds", Dr Nichols explained. "The bioengineered lungs continued to develop post-transplant without any infusions of growth factors, the body provided all of the building blocks that the new lungs needed".
The finished bioengineered lung - featuring cells from the patient - was then transplanted into the pigs.
The researchers said that with enough funding, they could grow lungs to transplant into people in compassionate use circumstances within 5 to 10 years.
"It has taken a lot of heart and 15 years of research to get us this far, our team has done something incredible with a ridiculously small budget and an amazingly dedicated group of people", Nichols and Cortiella said.
Eventually, bioengineered lungs could replace donor ones altogether.
The new findings are good news for anyone on an organ donation list, according to one of the researchers.