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Synthetic Windpipe

 

With the Same Properties as a ‘Real Trachea’
 

Polymers are already used in medical devices, but the properties of these novel polymers reduce the risk of rejection, rupture, or the need for repeat surgery. They have better elasticity, strength and versatility and are formulated to encourage cell growth.

A University College London, UK, scientist and his team designed and built the synthetic windpipe ‘scaffold’ used in an operation in Sweden announced by the Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institute.

The windpipe (trachea) implanted in this patient was developed using Nanocomposite materials which were developed and patented by Professor Alexander Seifalian (UCL Division of Surgery & Interventional Science), whose labs are based at the Royal Free Hospital. Together with Professor Paolo Macchiarini at Karolinska, who also holds an Honorary appointment at UCL, Professor Seifalian designed and developed the trachea scaffold using a material known as a novel Nanocomposite polymer.

 

Professor Seifalian has worked closely with UCL Business (UCLB), responsible for technology development and commercial transactions at UCL, to patent these materials and develop their use in medical devices. As well as being used for tissue scaffolds, the materials have other potential uses such as coronary stents and grafts.

 

A Nanocomposite is a material containing some components that are less than 100 nanometers (nm) in size. To give a sense of scale, a human hair is about 60,000 nanometers in thickness. A polymer is a repeating chain of small, identical molecules (called monomers) which are linked together.

 

 

Surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world’s first synthetic organ transplant using a windpipe ‘grown’ from the patient’s stem cells. The replica organ was designed and developed by EPSRC sponsored Scientists.

 

The surgeons successfully implanted a synthetic windpipe ‘scaffold’ into the throat of a cancer patient. Without the new windpipe (trachea), the patient, whose own windpipe had been blocked by an inoperable tumor the size of a golf ball, would have died.

 

The team used 3D computerized tomography (CT) scans of the patient to craft a perfect copy of his trachea using a glass mould, from which they developed a replica ‘scaffold’ using a novel Nanocomposite Polymers.

 

The full size Y shaped replica was taken to Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden where stem cells taken from the patient’s bone marrow and linings from his nose were incorporated to it (or ‘seeded’) by Professor Paolo Macchiarini, who codeveloped the scaffold with Professor Seifalian and also performed the surgery. After two days, the millions of nanoscale holes in the porous windpipe had been seeded with the patient’s own tissue.

 

The full Biological trachea was grow in a bioreactor a device designed for the procedure which provides the correct environment for the tissue to grow, and very effectively simulates the growth of natural tissue. The result a synthetic windpipe with the same properties as a ‘real’ trachea.

 

The 12-hour operation was a complete success. In this transplantation the tracheas used were taken from organ donors and then reseeded with the patient’s own stem cells.
 

Surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world’s first synthetic organ transplant using a windpipe ‘grown’ from the patient’s stem cells. The replica organ was designed and developed by EPSRC sponsored scientists.

 

“What makes this procedure different is it’s the first time a wholly tissue-engineered synthetic windpipe has been made and successfully transplanted, making it an important milestone for regenerative medicine”.

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