Medicine now sees considerable evolution in the field of genetic engineering, by creating limbs with the help of a patient’s own biological material. Some days ago, news were screaming with information about a patient who can mind-control its robotic limb to make movements and thus make it become an active and living part of his body.
Mind controlled robotic limbs for amputees are evolving into sophistication but now things can go even further than that, as a human limb transplant surgery could be performed in the near future, with the help of evolving science.
It seems that the biological nature of our limbs is efficient in producing functional replacements, as scientists already performed a trial that proved as successful for mice, at the time being.
The concept that is now published in the journal Biomaterials, reveals the limb of a rat grown in a lab by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. The organ has functioning veins and muscle tissue.
This procedure is nevertheless challenging, as limbs contain muscles, bone, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels, nerves and ligaments, that must be rebuilt part by part and require a particular supporting structure known under the name of “the matrix”, as the senior author of the paper at the MGH Department of Surgery and Center for Regenerative Medicine revealed.
This is spectacular piece of news for all those who confront themselves with a non-functional limb. Statistics show that more than 1.5 million Americans have lost a limb, with the technology of prosthetic limbs consequently advancing both in appearance and function over the years and making sufferers less exposed to helplessness. This chapter will soon be closed, as a better perspective is yet to be delivered.
Although an intermediate phase was developed, with patients receiving hand transplants for donors, this procedure comes along with lifelong risks from immunosuppressive therapy.
Everything will go back to basics, with researchers and scientists being able to develop a natural and life-scale limb from ground zero, by using the patient’s progenitor cells to regenerate the tissue for a brand new limb, rather than rely on a donor.
This is only the base of what is yet to be a very complex procedure, as an appropriate matrix has to be devised and developed, for scientists to be able to grow the new tissue.
“We have shown that we can maintain the matrix of all of these tissues in their natural relationships to each other, that we can culture the entire construct over prolonged periods of time, and that we can repopulate the vascular system and musculature.”, declared Harald Ott, the senior author of the study.
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