Researchers now need to do more experiments in rats, refining the rebuilt lung and extending the duration of the transplant.
"The lungs we have now perform quite well, but they're not perfect," Petersen said.
The process would be much the same in humans, starting with replicating the scaffolding, then repopulating it with new cells.
"The more challenging thing will be to identify the right cells and this will probably involve using stem cells derived from a particular patient," Petersen said.
A separate group of researchers also reporting in Science were able to create an artificial "lung on a chip," basically a miniature model of a working human lung made from cultured human cells from lung and blood vessels.
The manufactured "lung" is about the size of a coin or a pencil eraser.
"We basically used microfabrication techniques that were developed for the computer microchip industry," explained study senior author Dr. Don Ingber, founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. These were combined with tissue engineering processes.
"They have constituted in a system which is quite elaborate," Schachter said, adding that one aspect of the model seemed particularly useful: the ability to study the interactions of inhaled toxins much more easily than could be done in existing systems.
Ingber and his group are hoping the lung on a chip can replace animal models as the basis for pharmaceutical research. Animal models, Ingber pointed out, are incredibly costly and take a long time to complete.
On top of that, he said, "animals often don't predict what happens in humans. Our motivation was 'Can we shortcut all that.'"
The group is also working towards developing a "human on a chip," which Ingber said is essentially "making multiple organ-on-chips [e.g., lung, heart, gut, live
All rights reserved