from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Organ transplant procedures are becoming amazingly complex and reliable. Still, it’s a good idea to try to keep your original equipment in good working order. But if you do start having an organ fail on you, it’s nice to know there are some options — and the options are getting better. Here are just a few advances in getting donor organs that don’t necessarily involve other people dying.
- Tens of thousands of people are on a waiting list for a kidney transplant because it’s not easy to find a matching donor. About 3,000 new patients are added to the list (in the US alone) each month, but a new procedure called desensitization could make organ rejection far less common — and improve the odds for people looking for a kidney transplant. This method could also be suitable for other organ transplants, but it requires a living donor — so it’s a bit easier to find “spare” kidneys than, say, livers. [url]
- Roughly 4,000 patients in the US are waiting for a heart transplant. Growing a heart from stem cells in a lab might be possible someday, and researchers have gotten a tiny step closer to doing so. It’s just not easy to grow tens of billions of cells into a functioning adult heart — unless you’re a baby. [url]
- There are “farms” already trying to grow human tissue inside pigs and sheep — perhaps developing a way to grow human hearts, kidneys, livers or any other organ on demand. These “human-animal chimeras” aren’t being funded with federal NIH funds, but there are other agencies and research groups working on “humanized” animals. Lab mice have been successfully altered to grow a rat pancreas, so it’s likely that other animals should be able to grow viable human organs as well. [url]
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