Organs made to order

It sounds like science fiction, but it is not. The Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid has just presented the first laboratory in the world specialized in manufacture of bioartificial organs and tissues , through mother cells adults, with the aim of being able to use them on people who need a transplant. At the moment, you are working only with hearts and, according to the doctor Francisco Fernández Avilés , head of the Cardiology Service of the hospital and coordinator of the project, the procedure consists in "eliminating all cellular content" of the organ of a cadaveric donor "but keeping the three-dimensional structure intact, including vessels and valves".

Once this process is done, you structures They can be stored for months in a bank of matrices so that, when they can be needed for a transplant, they can be "sown" in them. adult stem cells of the receiver that needs it, since said structure induces and guides the proliferation, distribution and specialization of said cells.

This regenerative technique has already been successfully tested in small animals and now, thanks to the collaboration with a team from the University of Minnesota (United States), led by the doctor Doris Taylor , are working on the first animal transplant, planned for pigs next year. In the case of humans, the technique advances more slowly, although before the end of the year it is hoped that "a piece of cadaver organ will have the ability to beat". The first bioartificial organ transplant in humans could see the light inside "about five or ten years ".


Organs and tissues bioartificiales: a milestone of regenerative medicine

At the moment, eight cellular content has already been emptied hearts , all of them from deceased donors whose organs can not be used for a conventional transplant but whose structures are intact . This process of elimination is usually done in three or four days, while the "recellularization" of the organ once the recipient is identified can be done in a couple of months, says Fernández Avilés.


However, the duration of both interventions varies depending on the organ size . "Although it looks like science fiction, it is not," says this expert, who adds that, despite having started with the heart to be the most complex organ, in the future also can be manufactured other organs such as liver, pancreas or lungs. In this way, one of the great problems of transplantation, such as tissue rejection , since the matrices used are inert and, therefore, "have no immunological response capacity when having less than 5% of DNA , so they are not recognized by the receiver as strange but their own ".


For its part, one of the most recognized nephrologists of Europe and director of the National Transplant Organization of Spain , Dr. Rafael Matesanz, has stressed the importance of this advance since all transplant patients suffer some type of rejection "sooner or later", which in the case of the heart can lead to death in some occasions despite the fan current drugs to treat these rejections . Likewise, the problem of searching for organs that currently exists could be resolved, given that only a small proportion of the people who need a transplant "They end up getting an organ".