“Ghost” Organs

A ghost heart, ready to be injected with a transplant recipient’s stem cells to grow a new heart which won’t be rejected

There are thousands of people awaiting organ transplants throughout the world. Solutions to this are being researched all the time, with many being morally and ethically controversial, such as the sale of organs, and the cloning of organs.

One method of overcoming this issue is the creation of ‘ghost’ organs. This involves using chemicals commonly found in detergents and shampoos, to strip away all of the cells of the organ. This leaves the proteins, in a shell like form, as seen in the picture above.
The ‘ghost’ organ can then be injected with stem cells, which can specialise into the types of cells needed to reform that organ. Since you are using stem cells from the person who requires the transplant, you are eliminating the chances of the organ being rejected due to the organ coming from a different person.

To paraphrase a biomedical engineer and a user who worked on projects like this, from reddit, the common problem with these organs is that they can run into trouble in orientating the cells together, so when they tried to beat, they all squeezed in different directions. This made the fluid output of the heart only about 5% of a healthy heart.

The lung, however, is coming along quite well and they’ve had some success reimplanting a ‘recelled’ rat lung into a rat and getting blood oxygenation. They’ve also gotten a kidney to produce something that looks a lot like urine – but the lung is definitely the furthest along.

This sounds like an interesting move forward in creating organs which can be used to replace those that are no longer working, or potentially create organs for use in case of emergencies or as a precautionary method to hold onto for yourself in future. Again, commercialising something like this, as well as the concept itself would likely run into some more ethical issues, but it sounds as though it could heavily benefit people as well as animals, and so I think research into the area should be prioritised.

References:

http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2012/08/ghost_heart_a_framework_for_gr.html

http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1t10vg/this_is_a_ghost_organ_it_has_been_decelluralized/ce39aq1

http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1t10vg/this_is_a_ghost_organ_it_has_been_decelluralized/ce3a5u0

 

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