Today a man in Finland has a new jaw, thanks to specially-treated stem cells harvested from his fatty tissues and grown in his stomach. It's not the first time researchers have grown bones inside a stomach (we featured a picture of some bioengineered teeth grown in rats' stomachs), but it's the first successful surgery of this type with a human. A group of Finnish doctors today announced the transplant was successful and that nobody looking at the patient would be able to tell that he'd had the procedure done.
According to a story in Reuters:
Researchers said on Friday the breakthrough opened up new ways to treat severe tissue damage and made the prospect of custom-made living spare parts for humans a step closer to reality. [Lead researcher Riitta Suuronen] and her colleagues . . . isolated stem cells from the patient's fat and grew them for two weeks in a specially formulated nutritious soup that included the patient's own blood serum.I'm ready for the aftermarket body parts revolution.
In this case they identified and pulled out cells called mesenchymal stem cells — immature cells than can give rise to bone, muscle or blood vessels. When they had enough cells to work with, they attached them to a scaffold made out of a calcium phosphate biomaterial and then put it inside the patient's abdomen to grow for nine months. The cells turned into a variety of tissues and even produced blood vessels, the researchers said. The block was later transplanted into the patient's head and connected to the skull bone using screws and microsurgery to connect arteries and veins to the vessels of the neck.
Finnish Patient Gets New Jaw [Reuters]