University of Texas Scientists Grow Human Lung in a Lab

Science fiction is moving toward science fact, and that can be good news for a lot of people.

University of Texas scientists grew a human lung in a laboratory. Then, they did it again.

The lungs were grown from cells obtained from the lungs of children who were killed in an accident. Their lungs were too damaged to be used in transplant. Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas, Medical Branch, says it will be about 12 years before laboratory-grown lungs are ready to be used in human transplants.

If the CNN story is accurate, nobody was killed, paid money to have their body harvested, or was otherwise exploited to grow these lungs. That means there is no moral impediment to using them when they become available.

From CNN Health:

(CNN) – For the first time, scientists have created human lungs in a lab — an exciting step forward in regenerative medicine, but an advance that likely won’t help patients for many years.

“It’s so darn cool,” said Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “It’s been science fiction and we’re moving into science fact.”

If the lungs work — and that’s a big if — they could help the more than 1,600 people awaiting a lung transplant. Lungs are one of many body parts being manufactured in the lab — some parts, such as tracheas and livers, are even further along.

“Whole-organ engineering is going to work as a solution to the organ donor shortage,” said Dr. Stephen Badylak, deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

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