How Does It Work?
The goal behind growing organs from stem cells is to one day replace the need for organ transplants altogether by growing new tissue internally or externally. It’s hoped this technique can one day be used to re-grow limbs as well. Using a combination of medicine, biology and genetic engineering, the single cells produced are hoped to develop into new, healthy organs, which can either be produced within a patient or in a simulated environment. Progress has already been made with recreating body parts, as scientists are now able to create artificial bone.
One area scientists and researchers are focusing on is creating internal organ growth, or Neo-organs. With this method, cells are able to regenerate into whole tissues with the use of biodegradable polymers and scaffolding materials within the body. As the cells replicate into tissues, the other materials used are broken down and exit the body as a waste product.
Another area that's being studied is the ability to grow organs externally. With this process, molds of structures, such as a bladder, are needed. Using the patient's own cells in the bioresorbable scaffolds, the new organ can be grown. After the organ has matured, it can then be implanted into the body. This technique is also used with animals. By using animals as a simulated environment, the human stem cells are injected into an animal’s fetus to grow the new tissue. Upon birth, the organ is then removed and transplanted into the human body.