A boy has had his windpipe rebuilt by doctors using his stem cells, in what is being hailed as path-breaking surgery.
If the 10-year-old’s recovery is a success, surgeons say the method they used at London’s Great Ormond Street children’s hospital on Monday may start a regenerative medicine revolution.
Surgeons injected cells from the boy’s bone marrow into his windpipe (the fibrous collagen “scaffold” of a donor trachea), which was then implanted in the patient. The stem cells are expected to begin to transform themselves over the next month into both internal and external tracheal cells.
The patient, who has not been named, is breathing normally and his recovery is reported to be on course. The operation took nine hours to carry out.
The cells will not trigger an immune response as they come from his own tissue. Normally after a transplant a child’s immune system would need to be medically suppressed because of the natural process of organ rejection.