Scientists create first ever lab-grown human lungs

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

When we breathe, our lungs take in oxygen and circulate it through our veins.

The fascinating science of regenerative medicine, which replaces human cells, tissues, or organs, has made a major breakthrough. For the first time ever, US scientists grew human lungs in a laboratory, which may help with the lack of organ donors (people who donate their own body parts).

Dr. Joaquin Cortiella from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) says, “The most exciting part is to shorten the time people have to wait for an organ transplant.” So, how did the UTMB research team pull off this amazing feat? They took a damaged lung, removed its cells and materials until just the frame of the organ was left, then added back cells from a different lung. Next, they put it inside a liquid-filled chamber that gave the cells nutrition, and after 4 weeks, a human lung emerged!

Researchers estimate it’ll still take about 12 years until these lungs can actually be used in a human organ transplant (moving it from one body into another).

Featured image courtesy of Hey Paul Studios.