Transplantation of tissue-engineered windpipe can benefit patients with tracheal cancer

April 01, 2017

The patient had been suffering from late-stage tracheal cancer. Despite maximum treatment with radiation therapy, the tumor had reached approximately 6 cm in length and was extending to the main bronchus. It was progressing and almost completely blocked the trachea. Since no suitable donor windpipe was available, the transplantation of the synthetic tissue-engineered trachea was performed as the last possible option for the patient, referred by Professor Tomas Gudbjartsson of Landspitali University Hospital (Iceland) who was also part of the surgical team.

The successful transplantation of tissue-engineered synthetic organs, referred to as regenerative medicine, could open new and very promising therapeutic possibilities for the thousands of patients who suffer from tracheal cancer or other conditions that destroy, block or constrict the airway. This procedure is still experimental and will need to be sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations for the more than 100,000 Americans who are actively waiting for organ transplants to benefit from it. "[A] tailor-made synthetic tracheal scaffold is an urgent clinical need," the authors write.

"Transplantations of tissue-engineered windpipes??and potentially other tubular organs like esophagus, blood vessels and ureters??with synthetic scaffolds in combination with the patient's own stem cells, as a standard procedure, means that patients would not have to wait for a suitable donor organ," said David Green, President of Harvard Bioscience, which produced the bioreactor. "This would be a substantial benefit for patients since they could benefit from earlier surgery and have a greater chance of cure. In addition to treating adult patients, tissue-engineered synthetic trachea transplants would, not least, be of great value for children, since the availability of donor tracheas is much lower than for adult patients."

Source: The Lancet