It sounds like science and fiction, but it is not. The Gregorio Marañón Hospital de Madrid has the first laboratory in the world specialized in the manufacture of organs Y bioartificial tissues , through adult stem cells, with the aim of being able to use them in people who need a transplant. At the moment, work is being done only with hearts and, according to the doctor Francisco Fernández Avilés , head of the Hospital Cardiology Service and project coordinator, the procedure consists in "eliminating all cellular content "from the organ of a cadaver donor" but maintaining the three-dimensional structure of the same intact, including glasses Y valves ".
Once this process is completed, these structures can be maintained stored for months in a bank of matrices so that, when they may be needed for a transplant , can be "sown" in them the adult stem cells of the receiver that needs it, since this structure induces and guides the proliferation , distribution Y specialization of said cells.
This regenerative technique has already been tested with success in small animals and currently, 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 this year. In the case of humans , the technique advances more slowly although within a short time it is hoped that "a piece of cadaver organ will have the ability to beat". The first transplant of bioartificial organ in humans it could see the light within "about five or ten years".
At the moment, they have already been emptied of cellular content eight hearts, all coming from donors deceased whose organs can not be used for a transplant conventional 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 receiver can be done in a couple of months, Fernández Avilés .
However, the duration of both interventions varies depending on the size of the organ. "Although it looks like science and 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 response capacity immunological by having less than 5% of DNA , so they are not recognized by the receiver as strange but own. "
For his part, one of the most recognized nephrologists in Europe and director of the National Transplant Organization of Spain, the doctor Rafael Matesanz , has highlighted 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 current range of drugs to treat these rejections. Likewise, the problem of searching for organs that exists today could be solved, given that only a small proportion of the people who need a transplant "They end up getting an organ".