By Dr. Brian McDonough
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Need an organ? Grow your own!
This is definitely something out of science fiction, but there’s a report in the journal, The Lancet, about the idea of engineering whole organs as a solution for the organ-donor shortage.
There are many people waiting for kidneys, hearts, livers and waiting for that perfect match. And, according to the report, one of the possibilities for solving this problem is engineering organs from stem cells.
According to the new report, what they’re suggesting is the use of a regenerative technique, based on the use of what are called naturally-occurring extra-cellular matrices. Essentially, it’s a biological scaffold, into which a patient’s own stem cells would be placed. In time, they could actually turn into a fully-functioning organ and this could, at least theoretically, offer a potential solution to the organ-donor crisis.
Again, this is something that they are looking at as a potential. And obviously there are ethical challenges that remain before wider use of the approach is considered.