Could Lab-Grown Organs Make Us Immortal?

Doctors have successfully transplanted human windpipes grown in laboratories but vital organs, like hearts and kidneys, are much more complex. How far away is that technology?

What's the Latest Development?


Human windpipes grown in laboratories using stem cells have successfully been transplanted into patients with cancerous esophagi. Scientists are now working to grow vital organs, like the heart and liver, but complications arise due to their complicated architecture, "featuring many different types of cells and an extensive network of blood vessels to provide them with oxygen and nutrients." Unless these features can be incorporated into vital organs, which are necessary even at the microscopic level, lab-grown organs will stay small and simple.   

What's the Big Idea?

To overcome these obstacles, scientists have begun taking whole organs from cadavers and soaking them in a detergent that strips away the cells, leaving just the natural scaffold of veins and connective tissue. Then scientists are free to seed that scaffold with stem cells from the transplant patient's body. 3-D printers are also a promising avenue for growing organs and the blood vessels they contain. Massive organ failure is also known as dying of natural causes so might we be looking at the beginning of the end of the end of our lives?

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

Videos
  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
Keep reading Show less

Jesus wasn't white: he was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew. Here's why that matters

There is no doubt that the historical Jesus, the man who was executed by the Roman State in the first century CE, was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew.

Hans Zatzka (Public Domain)/The Conversation, CC BY-ND
popular

I grew up in a Christian home, where a photo of Jesus hung on my bedroom wall. I still have it. It is schmaltzy and rather tacky in that 1970s kind of way, but as a little girl I loved it. In this picture, Jesus looks kind and gentle, he gazes down at me lovingly. He is also light-haired, blue-eyed, and very white.

Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less