Researchers here report on their efforts to build a suitable structure to replace a trachea, starting with patient cells and artificial scaffolds. Since the trachea is a thin-walled pipe, engineered tissue can be constructed in this way without the need for complex blood vessel networks, as at no point is the tissue so thick as to prevent direct perfusion of nutrients and oxygen to the inner cells. Unfortunately, it remains the case that decellularized donor tissue is the only reliable solution for the production of capillaries to support thicker tissues, scores of such vessels passing through every square millimeter. This is why most of the more ambitious work, closer to clinical application, involves thin tissues and tubular structures – larger blood vessels, skin, and so forth – while everyone else is working with the tiny sections of engineered tissue known as organoids.
Biomedical engineers are growing tracheas by coaxing cells to form three distinct tissue types after assembling them into a tube structure – without relying on scaffolding strategies currently being investigated by other groups. “The unique approach we are taking to this problem of trachea damage or loss is forming tissue modules using a patient’s cells and assembling them
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