The latest graft is different, because it involves a synthetic structure rather than a graft from a cadaver.
Before implantation, the part was seeded with stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow, so that once transplanted it would grow its own layers of native surface cells. The coating was performed in a special reactor by Harvard Bioscience, a company in Holliston, Massachusetts.
“We see this as the beginning of growing synthetic organs,” says the company’s president, David Green. “It’s the stuff of scientific fiction becoming medical reality.” Last year, a man received the first synthetic windpipe, a Y-shaped appendage that was also covered with the patient’s own stem cells.