Woman Given New 3D-Printed Windpipe in World First

A South Korean biotech company is now the first and only one in the world to produce a bio-3D-printed windpipe that was successfully transplanted into a human body, according to the Good News Network.

The company, T&R Biofab says nasal stem cells and cartilage cells were obtained from other patients who underwent other procedures. These were replicated and combined with polycaprolactone (PCL) for structural support as well as a special ink made from living cells to make the windpipe, or trachea.

The transplant procedure was performed in Seoul on a woman in her 50s, who lost part of her own trachea during thyroid removal surgery.

The hospital and T&R both say they hope that the artificial trachea will allow her to live a relatively normal life until its expiration date five years from now - then her body is expected to have regenerated her own.

Six months after the operation, the windpipe is not only healing well but new blood vessels are starting to form, according to the BBC.

While it’s too soon to say that 3D-bioprinting could be the solution for the current shortage of organs for transplantation, it definitely increases the hopes to partially solve the issue for some organs or some specific indications, or at least fill the gap between classic medical devices and organ transplants,” Dr. Paulo Marinho, head of scientific strategy at T&R Biofab, told BBC Science Focus.

Jen Townley

Jen Townley

Listen to Jen Townley weekday mornings on the KRMG Morning News with Dan Potter

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