Rats breathe using lab lungs

30 June 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

rat–lab–lungs–artificial.jpgFor the first time rats have been able to breathe using lab grown lungs, a new study reports.

Scientists created the lungs using the same technique used to create liver grafts. Decellularisation flushes out old cells to leave just the structure of the organ and new stem cells are introduced to replace them and seed the empty area.

A team of researchers used a decellularised adult rat lungs reseeded with lung cells from newborn rats. After eight days the cells had multiplied and shifted into the right places to form functional lung tissue.

The tissue was then tested by replacing rats’ lungs with the new lab grown versions. X-rays showed the lungs were inflating (but not to their full capacity), while blood tests revealed that exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide was working at 95% of normal efficiency. After two hours blood clots began to form, forcing the lungs to stop functioning.

Researchers will now try to find cells that would allow the lungs to function for longer and not provoke an immune attack after transplantation.