This is my reaction to the TED video found at
Stem cells have the potential to produce to different types of cell. They are found in bone marrow and in the umbilical cord of humans. Humans have the most stem cells while we are in utero and before we reach adulthood. The function of stem cells has inspired research like Anthony Atlas who specializes in cell regeneration. The fundamental premises of the research asks the questions “if humans can make more cells and regenerate tissue in certain parts of the body, can biologists regrow a patient’s cells when tissue dies or an organ fails? Can it be done outside the body in a lab?”
Atlas’s presentation of printing a kidney was phenomenal. The goal of his research is to eliminate the need for organ donation and its complications (i.e. rejection). He showed his lab using scaffolding and printing to generate a new bladder for a ten year old boy from his own bladder tissue. The lab grew the specialized cells and smooth muscle cells. Also, the lab needed to make the shape of the bladder match what Luke needed. Clinical trials were done in animals and rigorous testing was done before humans received an organ grown in a lab. The tissue printer was designed to deliver the organ in the shape that would fit properly so it would function normally. We know that cardiac muscles are myogenic, meaning they contract and relax on their own. When they are grown in a lab, they start to beat together when given a stimulus. Dr. Atlas’s team is able to strengthen smooth muscle of the before transplanting it into the patient. Scientists have been transplanting blood vessels into patients with success for ten years. These vessels use smooth muscle to move the blood.
From less complicated regeneration of blood vessels to growing hollow organs, Atlas’s research has made great strides in biotechnology and a profound influence on science. Luke’s testimonial and continued good health are the fruits of that labor. Scientists are diligently working on making solid vascularized organs such a kidney in a lab. This is more complicated because the kidney has an intricate network of capillaries that form nephrons for glomerular filtration. Renal disease is a major concern in the US. As of this video, about 90% of people waiting for an organ are waiting for a kidney. Our best hope is that in the next 15 years, solid organs such as a lung, liver or kidney can be grown and used for transplant. Dr. Atlas of course continues to advocate for organ donation and tradition transplants while research continues.