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Scientists Create Functional Lab-Grown Lungs

Yale University researcher Laura Niklason and her colleagues grew rat lungs in a lab. They then implanted those lungs into rats, and the rats successfully breathed. This is the first time that animals have been able to breathe with lab-grown lungs:

The team started with decellularized adult rat lungs, which retain the organs' branching airways and blood vessel network, and added a mixture of lung cells from newborn rats. Niklason says that the crucial step was nurturing the would-be lungs in a bioreactor that circulates fluid—simulating what would happen during fetal development—or air through them. The cells stuck to the scaffold in the right locations and multiplied. After up to 8 days in the bioreactor, they had coalesced into what the researchers' tests indicated was functional lung tissue.

To determine whether the new organs worked, the researchers removed rats' left lungs and stitched in lab-grown replacements. X-rays showed that the implanted lungs were inflating, though not fully. Tests of gas levels in blood flowing to and from the replacement organs showed that they were taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide at 95% of normal efficiency.


The rats managed to survive for two hours with their new lungs. Video at the link.

Link via DVICE | Photo: US Department of Energy

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But the rats still died after having grown lung installed. :p I guess it's still progress.

Also, my brain tries to imagine surgery on rats and their teeny little lungs and just gives up. How do you even attach something like? Jeesh.
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