Stem Cells Current Affairs - 2020

Scientists successfully grow three-dimensional lungs in lab using stem cells

Scientists in the United States including those of Indian origin have successfully grown three-dimensional (3D) lungs in the lab, using stem cells.

The 3D lungs or organoids was created by coating tiny gel beads with lung-derived stem cells and then allowing them to self-assemble into the shapes of the air sacs found in human lungs.

To show that these tiny organoids mimicked the structure of actual human lungs, researchers compared it with real sections of human lung.

Significance: The laboratory-grown 3D lungs can be used to study diseases including Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) which has been difficult to study using conventional methods and also test possible treatments for the lung diseases.

What is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)?

  • IPF is a chronic lung disease characterised by scarring of the lungs. The scarring makes the lungs thick and stiff.
  • It results in progressively worsening shortness of breath and thus results in lack of oxygen to the brain and vital organs.
  • Though researchers do not know what causes IPF in all cases but cigarette smoking and exposure to certain types of dust can increase the risk of developing the disease.

Scientists develop new bio-ink for 3D bio-printing with stem cells

Scientists have developed a new stem cell-containing bio-ink that allows 3D printing of complex living tissues that may be used for surgical implants.

The medical breakthrough was achieved by scientists from the University of Bristol, England. The study in this regard was published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

Key Facts

  • The new bio ink containing stem cells allows scientists to 3D print of living tissue which is also known as bio-printing.
  • The ink contains two different polymer components: a natural polymer and a sacrificial synthetic polymer.
  • The natural polymer was extracted from seaweed. It provides structural support when the cell nutrients are introduced.
  • The synthetic polymer used in the medical industry helps the bio-ink to change its state from liquid to solid when the temperature is raised.
  • The special bio-ink formulation has helped scientists to construct complex living 3D architectures after it was extruded from a retrofitted benchtop 3D printer, as a liquid that later transformed to a gel at 37°C.

What is stem cell?

  • Stem cell is an undifferentiated cell of a multicellular organism which is capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells (through mitosis) of the same type and from which certain other kinds of cell may be formed by the cellular differentiation.
  • In the stem cell treatments new adult cells are introduced into the damaged tissue through the intervention strategy to treat the disease.
  • These treatments have potential to change the face of curing human diseases and alleviate suffering.