Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

I couldn’t believe my eyes: But there it was, right on the front page of the New York Times: “A First: Organs Tailor-Made With Body’s Own Cells.”

The story goes into great detail describing an Iceland research success in which a dying man’s trachea was fabricated using plastic and the patient’s own cells, still functional after several years. And then, it describes the progress being made in more sophisticated experiments. From the story:

Human stem cells are part of the body’s system for building and repairing itself. They begin as a blank slate, but are able to become specialized cells specific to particular tissues or organs like the windpipe. In recent years, scientists have made great advances in understanding how stem cells can differentiate in this way

Wow! Adult stem cells can be transformed into different types of tissues.  Who knew?  Well, readers of this blog have for years.  Not so sure about readers of the NYT.

Scientists are experimenting with interesting approaches:
Labs around the world are now experimenting with scaffolds. In some cases the goal is to use the natural scaffolds themselves to build new organs — to take a donor lung, for example, strip all its cells and reseed it with a patient’s own cells. Why not use what nature has perfected, this line of thinking goes, rather than try to replicate it in a synthetic scaffold?

And perhaps even better:
Because the need for this kind of work is potentially so enormous, “we cannot pretend that we can reseed with the specific cells outside the body,” he said. Instead, he envisions developing even better scaffolds and implanting them without cells, relying on drugs to stimulate the body to send cells to the site. His ultimate dream is to eliminate even the synthetic scaffold. Instead, drugs would enable the body to rebuild its own scaffold. “Don’t touch the patient,” Dr. Macchiarini said. “Just use his body to recreate his own organ. It would be fantastic.”

Congratulations, New York Times.  You finally reported the real news about regenerative medicine.

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles