Woman’s cancer wiped out … by measles virus

In a breakthrough that could offer new hope to people with some kinds of cancer, Mayo Clinic researchers say they managed to wipe out a woman’s cancer with a blast of measles vaccine strong enough to inoculate 10 million people.

The 50-year-old woman’s blood cancer, which had spread through her body, went into complete remission after the vaccine dose and Stacy Erholtz has been clear of the disease for more than six months.

“It’s a landmark,” lead researcher Dr. Stephen Russell tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We’ve known for a long time that we can give a virus intravenously and destroy metastatic cancer in mice. Nobody’s shown that you can do that in people before.” And Erholtz’s take on the approach is more than positive: “It was the easiest treatment by far with very few side effects. I hope it’s the future of treating cancer infusion.” The trial involved two patients with multiple myeloma, and the second failed to go into complete remission, with the cancer returning after nine months.

KARE-11 reports the trial involved patients with multiple myeloma because their immune systems are so compromised they lack the ability to immediately fight off the measles, giving the virus time to attack the cancer; they also had no conventional treatment options left.

Russell explains how the process works in layman’s terms: “It puts the virus into bloodstream, it infects and destroys the cancer, debulks it, and then the immune system can come and mop up the residue.” Up next: larger-scale studies, and tests of the vaccine’s effectiveness against ovarian, brain, head, and neck cancers, as well as mesothelioma.

They also plan to test vaccines for viruses other than measles, with the goal being to find a “single-shot” cure for many cancers. (More big health news: A team thinks it’s cracked an HIV mystery.)

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Why pigs are so valuable for medical research

 Loren Grush

A bunch of pigs_Reuters.jpg


The medical world is abuzz over the lifesaving potential of a most unlikely source:


Researchers from the National Institutes of Health last month announced that they’d successfully transplanted hearts from genetically engineered pigs into baboons, potentially paving the way for pig-to-human organ transplants in the future.

And on May 7, genome scientist Craig Venter partnered with United Therapeutics Corp. to develop pig lungs that could be compatible with the human body.

But pigs offer more than just a potential source for organ donation. For over 30 years, scientists have been using pigs in a number of medical fields, including dermatology, cardiology and more. Recently, scientists were even able to re-grow human leg muscles using implants made of pig bladder tissue.

So what makes this farm animal so valuable for medical research? Outwardly, pigs and people seem drastically different; we share only three scientific classifications, and we certainly don’t look alike.

“If [something] works in the pig, then it has a high possibility of working in the human.”- Michael Swindle, author of “Swine in the Laboratory”

It just so happens that, despite our differences, many of the pig’s biological systems are very similar to our own.

“They have a number of anatomic and physiologic similarities to humans in different systems,” Dr. Michael Swindle, retired veterinary researcher and author of “Swine in the Laboratory,” said in an interview. “They are what’s known as a translational research model, so if [something] works in the pig, then it has a high possibility of working in the human.”

According to Swindle, many of the pig’s organ systems are 80 to 90 percent similar to the corresponding systems in humans – both in anatomy and function. The system that matches up best may be the cardiovascular system, as a pig’s heart is about the same size and shape as a human heart. Pigs develop atherosclerosis – artery plaque buildup – in the same way that humans do, and they react similarly to myocardial infarction, the classic heart attack.

Because of these similarities, scientists have long used pigs to test interventional catheter devices and methods of cardiovascular surgery, as well as to understand how the heart works in general. And tissues derived from pig hearts have been used to replace defective heart valves in humans, lasting upwards of 15 years in the human body.

Beyond their closely related hearts and blood vessels, another characteristic humans and pigs share is their diet. Both eat meat and plants to survive.

“The pig is a true omnivore like we are,” Swindle said. “It can eat and drink anything. And because of this, the physiology of digestion and the metabolic processes in the liver are also similar to humans. They’re used in a lot of dietary type of studies, as well as oral absorption studies of drugs.”

The similarities don’t stop there. Pig kidneys are comparable in size and function to human kidneys, lending themselves to renal research. And pigs have been one of the standard plastic surgery models for decades, as their skin wounds heal similarly to humans’ skin.

And there’s more. Diabetics who needed daily insulin injections relied on pork insulin until the 1980s, when manufacturers started making biosynthetic insulin through recombinant DNA technology. The insulin-producing cells in a pig’s pancreas are similar to humans’, so a significant amount of research on diabetes has been aimed at isolating those cells and harnessing them for future treatments.

No one really knows why the organs and anatomical systems of pigs are so similar to humans. Swindle theorizes that millions of years ago, they were even more similar, but then the species diverged genetically and independently developed similar characteristics through evolution.

“Along the evolutionary tree, my own personal belief is that they were true omnivores, so the metabolism and hormones that go along with being an omnivore may have led them on a pathway that gave them these similar characteristics [to humans],” Swindle said.

Because of these striking similarities in organ systems and the growing problem of donor organ shortages, pigs have been targeted as potential heart and lung donors for humans. Though primates such as baboons and chimpanzees are more closely related to humans, pigs provide a more attractive option for organ donation, as they are much more readily available and are already used for food.

“For another organ source, if you use a different species, they have to be available in large numbers and they have to be ethically acceptable,” said Dr. Soon Park, division chief of cardiac surgery for University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

“So if it’s something like the baboon, we may be closer to them than to pigs, but there are some ethical and moral issues there, and they are probably not acceptable for use. They’re also hard to raise in large numbers.”

Transplanting pig organs into humans – a process known as xenotransplantation – has been difficult, as the presence of pig organs causes the human immune system to go into hyperacute rejection. But with the success of the NIH’s study on pig-to-primate organ transplantation, pigs are once again being considered as a potentially viable option for transplants.

So in the world of medicine, it’s likely the pig’s popularity will only continue to rise.

Secrets to longevity found in blood of 115-year-old woman

Scientists have long searched for the secrets to longevity – and now, clues to this medical “holy grail” may be revealed in the blood of one of the world’s oldest and healthiest women.

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper was born in 1890 and lived to be an astonishing 115 years old.  But even more notable was her health; she was free of disease and in outstanding cognitive shape by the time of her death in 2005.  With the support of her living relatives, van Andel-Schipper agreed to have her body donated to science after she died.

Now, in a new study published in the journal Genome Research, scientists have analyzed the centenarian’s blood and other tissues to better understand how they change with age.

According to a report in New Scientist, the researchers found that in the years before her death, most of van Andel-Schipper’s white blood cells originated from just two stem cells, indicating that most of the blood stem cells she had been born with had been used up or died.  Additionally, her white blood cells had incredibly short telomeres – the protective caps on chromosomes that wear down over time.

These findings help to support the theory of stem cell exhaustion, which suggests that an individual’s lifespan may be limited by his or her cells’ ability to divide.  And ultimately, cell division cannot last forever.

“It’s estimated that we’re born with around 20,000 blood stem cells, and at any one time, around 1,000 are simultaneously active to replenish blood,” said lead researcher Henne Holstege of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  But over time, these cells’ telomeres shrink and they lose the ability to divide – leading to stem cell death and depletion.

However, Holstege noted that the results raise the possibility of injecting aging bodies with youthful stem cells saved from the early years of life.

“If I took a sample now and gave it back to myself when I’m older, I would have long telomeres again – although it might only be possible with blood, not other tissues,” she said.

Click for more from New Scientist.

14-pound baby largest in more than a decade at Mass General

  • Baby Carisa Ruscak with her parents, Caroline and Bryan. (Image courtesy of Massachusetts General Hospital)

A 14-pound baby was born at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Tuesday – making her the largest infant delivered at the facility in more than 10 years, WCVB reported.

Weighing in at 14 and a half pounds at birth, baby Carisa Ruscak surprised even her parents with her size.

“I heard the weight, and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Carisa’s mother, Caroline Ruscak told WCVB. “It validated me, because I was in a lot of pain when I was pregnant. So to hear the size, it made sense.”

Caroline and her husband, Bryan Ruscak, of Burlington, Massachusetts, are also parents to a 2-year-old, Claudia, who weighed 10 pounds at birth.

“We expected her to have a big baby. Her first baby was 10 and a half pounds, so we weren’t surprised,” Dr. Jennifer Kickham, who delivered the baby via Caesarean section, told WCVB. “We were expecting a big baby, but we weren’t expecting one quite that big.”

Bryan said the family’s genes may be to blame for his children’s size.

“That’s what we like: long and big. That’s what I am,” Bryan said.

The father of two is excited about his growing family.

“Big and beautiful: Claudia and Carisa. I’ll be in trouble in a few years, but that’s okay. I feel very lucky,” Bryan said.

Michigan man among first in US to receive ‘bionic eye’

ANN ARBOR, Mich. –  A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision.

Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a “bionic eye,” he’s regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.

“It’s awesome. It’s exciting — seeing something new every day,” Pontz said during a recent appointment at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. The 55-year-old former competitive weightlifter and factory worker is one of four people in the U.S. to receive an artificial retina since the Food and Drug Administration signed off on its use last year.

The facility in Ann Arbor has been the site of all four such surgeries since FDA approval. A fifth is scheduled for next month.

Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disease that causes slow but progressive vision loss due to a gradual loss of the light-sensitive retinal cells called rods and cones. Patients experience loss of side vision and night vision, then central vision, which can result in near blindness.

Not all of the 100,000 or so people in the U.S. with retinitis pigmentosa can benefit from the bionic eye. An estimated 10,000 have vision low enough, said Dr. Brian Mech, an executive with Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the Sylmar, Calif.-based company that makes the device. Of those, about 7,500 are eligible for the surgery.

The artificial implant in Pontz’s left eye is part of a system developed by Second Sight that includes a small video camera and transmitter housed in a pair of glasses.

Images from the camera are converted into a series of electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. The pulses stimulate the retina’s remaining healthy cells, causing them to relay the signal to the optic nerve.

The visual information then moves to the brain, where it is translated into patterns of light that can be recognized and interpreted, allowing the patient to regain some visual function.

When wearing the glasses, which Pontz refers to as his “eyes,” he can identify and grab his cat and figure out that a flash of light is his grandson hightailing it to the kitchen.

The visual improvement is sometimes startling for Pontz and his wife, Terri, who is just as amazed at her husband’s progress as he is.

“I said something I never thought I’d say: `Stop staring at me while I’m eating,”‘ Terri Pontz said.

She drives her husband the nearly 200 miles from tiny Reed City, Mich., to Ann Arbor for check-ups and visits with occupational therapist Ashley Howson, who helps Roger Pontz reawaken his visual memory and learn techniques needed to make the most of his new vision.

At the recent visit, Howson handed Pontz white and black plates, instructed him to move them back and forth in front of light and dark backgrounds and asked that he determine their color.

Back home, Terri Pontz helps her husband practice the techniques he learns in Ann Arbor.

For them, the long hours on the road and the homework assignments are a blessing.

“What’s it worth to see again? It’s worth everything,” Terri Pontz said.

The artificial retina procedure has been performed several-dozen times over the past few years in Europe, and the expectation is that it will find similar success in the U.S., where the University of Michigan is one of 12 centers accepting consultations for patients.

Candidates for the retinal prosthesis must be 25 or older with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa that has progressed to the point of having “bare light” or no light perception in both eyes.

Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, one of two physicians who performed the 4.5-hour surgery on Roger Pontz, is scheduled to discuss his experiences with the retinal prosthesis process during a meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery on Friday in Boston. He calls it a “game-changer.”

Pontz agrees: “I can walk through the house with ease. If that’s all I get out of this, it’d be great.”

Head injury during bar fight turns ‘ordinary’ guy into math whiz

When Jason Padgett pours cream into his morning coffee, this is what he sees:

“I watch the cream stirred into the brew. The perfect spiral is an important shape to me. It’s a fractal. Suddenly, it’s not just my morning cup of joe, it’s geometry speaking to me.”

Padgett’s world is bursting with mathematical patterns. He is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand. Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ Theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.

He sees the parts that make up the whole. And his world is never boring, never without amazement. Even his dreams are made up of geometry.

“I can barely remember a time,” the 43-year-old says, “when I saw the world the way most everyone else does.”

Flashback 12 years: Padgett had dropped out of Tacoma (Wash.) Community College, and was a self-described “goof” with zero interest in academics, let alone math. The only time he dealt in numbers was to track the hours until his shift ended at his father’s furniture store, tally up his bar tab, and count bicep curls at the gym.

With his mullet, leather vest opened to a bare chest, and skintight pants, he was more like a high-school student stuck in the 1980s — even though it was 2002, and he was a 31-year-old with a daughter.

He would race his buddies in a freshly painted red Camaro. His life was one adrenaline rush after another: cliff-jumping, sky-diving, bar-hopping. He was the “life of the party.” The guy who would funnel a beer before going out and would slip a bottle of Southern Comfort in his jacket pocket to avoid paying $6 for mixed drinks.

“I thought it would go on that way forever,” Padgett says.

Click for more from the New York Post.

3D tumors are printed in the lab


3D printed HeLa cells in tumor-like configurationsZHAO ET AL. BIOFABRICATION, 2014

Using 3D printing, researchers have made a tumor-like lump of cancer cells in the lab, and they say this lump shows a greater resemblance to natural cancer than do the two-dimensional cultured cells grown in a lab dish.

This more realistic representation of a tumor could aid studies on cancer and drug treatments, the researchers said.

To build the tumor-like structure, the researchers mixed gelatin, fibrous proteins and cervical cancer cells, then fed the resulting mixture into a 3D cell printer they had developed. Layer by layer, the printer produced a grid structure, 10 millimeters in width and length, and 2 millimeters in height. [7 Cool Uses of3D Printingin Medicine]

That structure resembles the fibrous proteins that make up the extracellular matrix of a tumor, the researchers said.

The cells were then allowed to grow, and after five days, the growth took on a spherical shape. The spheres continued to grow for three more days.

The cervical cancer cells used by the researchers were HeLa cells, the ‘immortal’ cell line that was originally taken from a cancer patient, Henrietta Lacks, in 1951. HeLa cells can multiply indefinitely and are the most common type of cells studied in cancer research.

In general, cancer studies involve cancer cells grown in the lab, which help scientists better understand the behavior of these abnormal cells. New cancer drugs are usually tested on such cells, in the lab, before being evaluated in human studies. Therefore, 2D models of cancer that consist of a single layer of cells grown in a dish have been created to assist research and testing of new drugs.

However, compared with such 2D cell cultures, the additional dimension of a 3D culturebetter reveals the tumor cells’ characteristics, including their shape, their proliferation, and gene and protein expression, the researchers said.

“With further understanding of these 3D models, we can use them to study the development, invasion, metastasis and treatment of cancer using specific cancer cells from patients,” said study researcher Wei Sun, a professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Drexel University, in Philadelphia.

“We can also use these models to test the efficacy and safety of new cancer treatment therapies and new cancer drugs,” said Sun, who is also the editor-in-chief of the journal Biofabrication, in which the new research is published April 10.

The researchers also found that using certain parameters during printing made it possible for about 90 percent of cells to survive the printing process. The mechanical force of printing can damage cells.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Doctors successfully implant lab-grown vaginas into 4 women

  • Scaffolding coated with a layer of cells is configured into a vagina shape. (Images courtesy of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

For women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, life can be difficult. Born with an absent or underdeveloped vagina, women suffering MRKH often have difficulty experiencing a normal sex life, can fail to menstruate and sometimes cannot reproduce naturally.

But now, researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have found a way to normalize life for women with severe cases of MRKH: Using patients’ own cells, they have successfully grown vaginas in a laboratory setting and implanted them into four women.

“There are patients [with MRKH] that do have a vaginal organ that’s small and they can benefit from other things that are non-surgical, but for the ones who don’t have much of an organ at all, where it’s fully absent, this would be a choice for them,” Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, told FoxNews.com.

Atala, a pediatric urologic surgeon, said he and his team have been working on the development of laboratory-grown vaginas for about 25 years, figuring out how to properly harvest and grow vaginal cells, and then testing the procedure on mice.

In a new study published in the Lancet, Atala and his team detailed how they were able to successfully grow vaginal organs in a laboratory.

“What we do is we take a very small piece of tissue from the patient, less than half a size of postage stamp, from their rudimentary organ…,” Atala said.

The harvested cells are grown in a laboratory for four weeks, where they are then layered onto a scaffolding molded into the shape of a vaginal organ. Each mold is specifically designed to meet the needs of the individual patient.

“We then are able to place this structure in an incubator, an oven-like device with the same conditions as the human body, and then the structure is able to mature somewhat, at which point we are able to insert it into the patient,” Atala said.

For their study, Atala and his colleagues recruited four women between ages 13 to 18, all of whom suffered from severe forms of MRKH. The surgeries were performed between June 2005 and October 2008. For up to eight years after the procedure, each woman was closely monitored to detect for complications and underwent numerous tests to assess the function of her lab-grown organ.

“We did yearly X-rays, we did scope procedures where we looked in with a scope yearly and also took pieces of tissue yearly and to make sure they continued to develop normally,” Atala said.

Overall, the surgeries were remarkably successful and showed healthy results in tests of functionality including desire, arousal, lubrication, sensation and painless intercourse. Previously, treatment options for patients with severe forms of MRKH included reconstructing the vaginal organ out of intestinal tissues or skin – procedures wrought with side effects and complications.

“With the intestinal [tissues], it turns over every seven days and there’s a lot of mucus and it becomes a hygienic problem and an odor problem in some patients,” Atala said. “And for skin, it’s skin so it doesn’t lubricate and it tends to [lose its shape] as well.”

Recipients of the lab-grown organs experienced none of these side effects; post-transplant, they were able to regain normal vaginal function.

“It’s their own organ, you’re basically putting back their own organ that should have been there to start with,” Atala said.

He noted that because the organs were grown using cells harvested from each patient, no anti-rejection medications were necessary after the procedure.

While other researchers have had success growing and implanting lab-grown windpipes into patients with a defective organ, Atala said growing the vaginal organ presented some unique difficulties.

“With this specific organ we really had to deal with constructing the whole organ; something that wasn’t there,” Atala said. “It’s more of a challenge because we were dealing with a structure we had to create totally de novo. We did a lot of research beforehand to make sure that it worked.”

The team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is currently testing the procedure on more patients, and is working towards clinical trials.

Though the procedure has currently only been tested in patients with MRKH, Atala said he envisions that someday it will be used for women with other conditions as well.

“We targeted this particular syndrome because we wanted to get the same type of patient over and over and be consistent with how we did the surgery,” Atala said. “…In reality, we can also apply this to patients who have vaginal cancer or trauma.”

Surfer treats his own eye problem with a giant wave


The surfer (top left, on yellow and red board) overbalancing while riding a roughly 30-foot (10 meters) wave at Waimea Bay. He momentarily dipped his face into the water while travelling at top speed, and recovered his balance and continued surfing the wave.BMJ CASE REPORTS

Instead of getting surgery, an adventurous surfer in Hawaii sought a different approach to treat his eye condition he dipped his head into the rushing water while surfing a gigantic, 30-foot (10 meters) wave, according to a new report of his case.

A band of fibrous tissue growing over the outer layers of the surfer’s eye caused his eye problem, a condition called pterygium. This irritating and sometimes dangerous growth often forms in people who spend a lot of time outdoors in sunny climates, and occurs so commonly among surfers that it is dubbed “surfer’s eye.”

When a pterygium becomes irritating, or is likely to harm vision, doctors remove it with surgery.

But this 61-year-old surfer chose to let the force of water take care of his pterygium, by “overbalancing” while surfing in Waimea Bay, off the North Shore of the island of Oahu in Hawaii, a place known for big wave surfing.

“He momentarily dipped his face into the water while travelling at top speed, but was able to recover his balance and continue surfing the wave,” Dr. Thomas Campbell, a medical officer at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland, wrote in the report published March 26 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. [14 Oddest Medical Case Reports]

“This impressive maneuver resulted in the pterygium being ripped off his eye surface,” Campbell wrote.

Although big wave surfers can reach speeds of 30 or 40 miles per hour, it’s not easy for the blunt force of water to rip off a pterygium. This vascular tissue is even difficult to remove with scalpels and scissors,said Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and the eye surgeon director for the New York Rangers hockey team.

Rather, it’s possible that the water tore the conjunctiva, the membrane lining thesurface of the eye.

“I think it’s possible he got some sort of blast to the eye that might have torn his conjunctiva. And the blood supply to the pterygium was interrupted, so maybe it died,” Fromer said. “But it would take a heck of shot of water to do that. Pretty unlikely this is going to happen to anyone else.”

The man’s eye was inflamed for several days after his “experimental treatment,” but his vision ultimately improved, according to the report. He was advised to seek medical attention if he developed a pterygium again.

Fromer noted that pterygium can be avoided by wearing sunglasses and hats.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Scientists grow human body parts in lab

Associated Press
  • Dr Michelle Griffin, a plastic research fellow, poses for photographs with a synthetic polymer ear at her research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London.AP PHOTO/MATT DUNHAM

LONDON –  In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells.

It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab.

While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes – researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world’s first nose made partly from stem cells.

“It’s like making a cake,” said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. “We just use a different kind of oven.”

During a recent visit to his lab, Seifalian showed off a sophisticated machine used to make molds from a polymer material for various organs.

Last year, he and his team made a nose for a British man who lost his to cancer. Scientists added a salt and sugar solution to the mold of the nose to mimic the somewhat sponge-like texture of the real thing. Stem cells were taken from the patient’s fat and grown in the lab for two weeks before being used to cover the nose scaffold. Later, the nose was implanted into the man’s forearm so that skin would grow to cover it.

Seifalian said he and his team are waiting for approval from regulatory authorities to transfer the nose onto the patient’s face but couldn’t say when that might happen

The potential applications of lab-made organs appear so promising even the city of London is getting involved: Seifalian’s work is being showcased on Tuesday as Mayor Boris Johnson announces a new initiative to attract investment to Britain’s health and science sectors so spin-off companies can spur commercial development of the pioneering research.

The polymer material Seifalian uses for his organ scaffolds has been patented and he’s also applied for patents for their blood vessels, tear ducts and windpipe. He and his team are creating other organs including coronary arteries and ears. Later this year, a trial is scheduled to start in India and London to test lab-made ears for people born without them.

“Ears are harder to make than noses because you have to get all the contours right and the skin is pulled tight so you see its entire structure,” said Dr. Michelle Griffin, a plastic surgeon who has made dozens of ears and noses in Seifalian’s lab.

“At the moment, children who need new ears have to go through a really invasive procedure involving taking cartilage from their ribs,” Griffin said, adding that taking fat cells from patients’ abdomens to add to a lab-made ear scaffold would be far easier than the multiple procedures often necessary to carve an ear from their ribs. Griffin added they plan to eventually create an entirely synthetic face but must first prove their polymer scaffolds won’t accidentally burst out of the skin.

“Scientists have to get things like noses and ears right before we can move onto something like a kidney, lungs or a liver, which is much more complicated,” said Eileen Gentleman, a stem cell expert at King’s College London, who is not involved in Seifalian’s research.

“Where Seifalian has led is in showing us maybe we don’t need to have the absolutely perfect tissue for a (lab-made) organ to work,” she said. “What he has created is the correct structure and the fact that it’s good enough for his patients to have a functional (windpipe), tear duct, etc. is pretty amazing.”

Some scientists predicted certain lab-made organs will soon cease to be experimental.

“I’m convinced engineered organs are going to be on the market soon,” said Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, a professor of transplantation biology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. She has transferred lab-made blood vessels into a handful of patients and plans to offer them more widely by 2016, pending regulatory approval. Still, she acknowledged doctors will have to watch closely for any long-term side effects, including the possibility of a higher cancer risk.

Seifalian estimated about 10 million pounds ($16 million) has gone into his research since 2005 but said he hoped lab-made organs would one day be available for a few hundred dollars.

“If people are not that fussy, we could manufacture different sizes of noses so the surgeon could choose a size and tailor it for patients before implanting it,” he said. “People think your nose is very individual and personal but this is something that we could mass produce like in a factory one day.”