Updated 18 February 2014

Scientists can now grow human lungs in a lab

If you’re suffering from a debilitating lung disease, here’s some hope: scientists will be able to grow you a fresh new set of lungs in the lab.

US researchers who were the first to successfully grow human lungs in the lab say their breakthrough could eventually save the lives of people waiting for a lung transplant.

The team at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston started with a damaged lung, ABC News reported.

"We removed all the cells, all the material in it, and just left the skeleton of the lung, or the scaffold, behind – the pieces of the lungs that are not cells," team leader Dr Joan Nichols explained. "And then we added back cells from another lung that couldn't be used for transplant but still had some viable cells in it."

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The scientists grew their first human lungs in the lab last year and said they hope to transplant the first set of lab-grown lungs into animals this year or next, ABC News reported.

It might take years before use

But it could be five to 10 years, or even longer, before it might be possible to use lab-grown lungs to save the lives of people who need new lungs, the scientists said.

Currently, more than 1 600 people in the United States are waiting for a lung transplant, ABC News reported.

Picture: Lungs from Shutterstock

Read more:
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Scientists grow teeth in mice
Pigs will be used to grow human organs


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