First successful transplant of a synthetic tissue-engineered windpipe

For the first time in history, a patient has been given a new trachea made from a synthetic scaffold seeded with his own stem cells.

Claire Crowley and Professor Seifalian with the synthetic windpipe

The patient, a 36-year old man, is well on the way to full recovery and will be discharged from the hospital today.

The operation was performed on 9 June 2011 at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Stockholm, by professor Paolo Macchiarini, of Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, and colleagues.

Professor Macchiarini led an international team including professor Alexander Seifalian from the UCL (University College London, UK) who designed and built the nanocomposite tracheal scaffold and Harvard Bioscience (Boston, USA) who produced a specifically designed bioreactor used to seed the scaffold with the patientīs own stem cells.

The cells were grown on the scaffold inside the bioreactor for two days before transplantation to the patient. Because the cells used to regenerate the trachea were the patient's own, there has been no rejection of the transplant and the patient is not taking immunosuppressive drugs.

The patient had been suffering from late stage tracheal cancer.