Possible Therapies


Xenotransplantation



Imutran, purchased by Novartis, was one of the first companies to attempt the creation of transgenic animals as a source for whole organs that could be implanted into humans without producing an immediate and massive immunological response. While some concern remains about the possibility of retroviral contamination there is no doubt that this is currently the technique most able to address a shortage of organs, the major issue in transplantation surgery.



Using Human Cells for Artificial Organs and Reconstructive Surgery
It is conceivable, in the longer term, that organs (hearts, kidneys and livers) will be grown on biocompatible frames using cells of the right type. This could be achieved using donor stem cells which are encouraged to differentiate in the correct way, or the patientís own cells de-differentiated to become capable of multiplying, and then re-differentiated, to colonise the frame and create a new organ. Where possible the autologous route is likely to be preferred because there would be no need for the immunosuppression that would usually be required with donor cells. Reconstructive surgery will undoubtedly benefit from these techniques but it will also be one route by which corrective genes and growth factors might be introduced into a patient.

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