Teisha J. Rowland, the author of All Things Stem Cell, recently started a general biology column with The Santa Barbara Independent. This new column, titled “Biology Bytes,” will have weekly stories posted on a wide variety of biology topics, so far ranging from snails, marsupials, and parrots, to stem cells.
The most recent article, “Likely Suspects in Cancer Growth,” is on cancer stem cells — it is a modified version of the “All Things Stem Cell” post “Cancer Stem Cells: A Possible Path to a Cure” to fit a more lay public audience.
Tune in to “Biology Bytes” for weekly stories on a wide array of fascinating biology topics, including more accessible explanations of stem cell biology.
Cancer Stem Cells, Resource
While there is great potential for using stem cells in regenerative therapies, there is still a ways to go before it can be considered a proven practice, although recent breakthroughs, and one specific trial in particular, makes it seem much closer. Recently, the first human tissue-engineered organ using stem cells was created and transplanted successfully into a patient. Other tissue regeneration efforts with stem cells have also recently made many breakthroughs, emphasizing the potential of using stem cells in future tissue transplants.
In the first reported instance of using stem cells to bioengineer a functional human organ, Paolo Macchiarini and his research group used a patient’s own stem cells to generate an airway, specifically a bronchus, and successfully grafted it into the patient to replace her damaged bronchus (See Figure 1). Macchiarini’s group bypassed the problem of immune rejection by using the patient’s own stem cells. Additionally, by combining a variety of bioengineering efforts, no synthetic parts were involved in the creation of the organ; it was made entirely of cadaveric and patient-derived tissues (Macchiarini et al., 2008; Hollander et al., 2009).
Figure 1. In order to create a patient-compatible replacement bronchus, Macchiarini’s group removed and decellularized a trachea from a cadaveric donor, grew cells removed from the patient on the trachea in a bioreactor, and then transplanted the bioengineered airway into the patient, successfully replacing their defective bronchus (Macchiarini et al., 2008).
Bioengineering, Mesenchymal Stem Cells