Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Vat Grown Organs - Tomorrow's Industry Today

Scientists will take one of the white spheres floating in the jars - the scaffolds - and add layers upon layers of human bladder cells, then ship the organ to a surgeon, who will implant it in the body of its donor. From biopsy to surgery, the process takes six to eight weeks.

In case you missed it, that patient just bought a new bladder, made out of her own cells. This may sound like science fiction, but scientists have been performing the technique, on a smaller scale, for eight years. As you read this, at least seven people are going about their business with autologous bladders that were created as part of an early clinical trial. In a smaller Tengion pilot facility in North Carolina, human bladders are already growing, part of two ongoing Phase II trials to determine if the process can help the thousands of people who need new bladders every year.

Tengion's investors have banked - literally - on the hope that the company will, eventually, be able to supply this need, every year, from now on. If everything goes according to plan, the company, based 32 kilometers outside of Philadelphia, will be the first to sell autologous organs - meaning there's no risk of rejection and no need to take immuno-suppressive drugs.