Researchers in Israel claim they’ve invented the first fully-personalized tissue implant. They used a patient’s own cells, giving them the freedom to engineer a variety of tissues from one simple biopsy.
From that biopsy, the team said they want to create everything from a new spinal cord, heart tissue, or brain tissue.
“We were able to create a personalized hydrogel from the materials of the biopsy, to differentiate fatty tissue cells into different cell types and to engineer cardiac, spinal cord, cortical and other tissue implants to treat different diseases,” said lead researcher Prof. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology.
“Since both the cells and the material used derive from the patient, the implant does not provoke an immune response, ensuring proper regeneration of the defected organ,” Dvir continued.
The research was recently published in an edition of the journal Advanced Materials.
Current problems with organ transplant
The human body is normally on the lookout for foreign germs or objects. While transplants can save lives, they can also cause the body more frustration.
Nearly all organ transplants require that the patients stay on an immunosuppression medicine. This limits the chances of rejection. Those issues don't just go for standard organ transplants. They apply to bioengineered organs as well.
“With our technology, we can engineer any tissue type, and after transplantation, we can efficiently regenerate any diseased or injured organ — a heart after a heart attack, a brain after trauma or with Parkinson’s disease, a spinal cord after injury,” said Dvir.
To create these organs, the researchers used a small biopsy of fatty tissue from the patient. They then separated the pluripotent stem cells from any a-cellular materials in the tissue. From there, they gained the ability to create whatever type of tissue they needed -- from all three basic body layers, they noted.
The extracellular material was then processed separately to become part of a unique hydrogel used in the tissue creation process.
“In addition, we can engineer adipogenic [fatty tissue] implants for reconstructive surgeries or cosmetics. These implants will not be rejected by the body," Dvir explained.
Thus far, the team has successfully recreated a spinal cord and an infarcted heart using cardiac implants.
The researchers have started looking into using the technology to create implants to treat Parkinson's disease in animal models. Their hope is to one day transfer that research to human patients. They also want to regenerate other organ types like eyes.
“We believe that the technology of engineering fully personalized tissue implants of any type will allow us to regenerate any organ with a minimal risk of immune response,” Dvir said.