Growing a trachea for transplant is now feasible, thanks in part to BioSpherix, Ltd. Its Xvivo system recently enabled doctors to grow a bioartificial trachea for a 21/2-year-old Korean girl born without a trachea. The trachea uses the girl’s own cells, so the usual threat of transplant rejection and the lifetime of immunosuppressant drugs are not issues.
Since the recent transplant at Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, the girl has been able to breathe, talk and eat without assistance for the first time in her life. Before that, her lifeline was a tube running from her mouth to her lung. Dr. Paolo Macchiarini of Italy headed the surgical team.
Dr. Mark Holterman, one of the surgeons, first saw the Xvivo system, a miniature, portable clean room, at a trade show. He realized that an Xvivo in the surgical suite could grow the trachea right where it would be implanted. The other closest possibility was moving cells to grow the trachea 150 miles away, and then bringing the trachea back, causing major contamination risks during transport.
BioSpherix designs and manufactures biomedical research equipment in Lacona, New York. Jennifer Crast, BioSpherix assistant marketing director, told RESCUECOM, “We build the Xvivo system around the user’s process.” The system consists of flexible modules to fit where needed.
The Xvivo system is a barrier isolator designed for cells’ needs. “Everything is done in uninterrupted, optimal conditions inside the system so the user never interacts with the cells and the cells will never interact with the user; for example a user working with viruses,” Crast explained.
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Using stem cells from the girl’s bone marrow, the team placed epithelial (lining) cells on the inside of a tube-shaped plastic scaffold, where they would normally be on a trachea, and chondritic (cartilage) cells on the outside of the scaffold. After two and a half days in the bioreactor placed inside the Xvivo, the windpipe was ready for implantation.
Some other uses for the Xvivo system are cell-based research or therapy applications. These could include ways to prevent or cure serious diseases, repairing damaged tissue/organs, tissue engineering and vaccine production, Crast continued.
Besides being easier and quicker to set up than a full clean room, the Xvivo system is also cheaper. “In comparison, over 10 years the total cost of ownership, which equals capital cost plus operating cost, is 10 times higher for a clean room than an Xvivo system,” Crast noted.
The Xvivo system enables you to configure chambers as needed to grow cells, with closed hoods and incubators. Get computer support to configure a computer network in your home or office.
“It’s exciting to wonder what our system will help accomplish next,” Crast stated. Now that smaller clinics and research facilities can use an Xvivo system, there are endless scientific possibilities, beginning with this international effort to save a child.
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