The construction of an artificial lung that may eventually be used for transplantation is reported in an article online in this week’s Nature Medicine. These results provide proof of principle for the generation of a transplantable lung graft which could one day represent a potential treatment for lung disease.
Fifty million people worldwide have end-stage lung disease. A lung transplant could help many of these patients, but organ shortage is often a limiting factor. Harald Ott and his colleagues now report on an approach to build lungs that are transplantable into rats, starting from a cell-free lung matrix. The authors removed the cells from rat lungs in a way that allowed them to preserve a matrix with the structural characteristics of the original organ. They then “seeded” the scaffolds with different lung cell types. The repopulated matrices supported lung function and could even be transplanted into rats, where they functioned for up to six hours.