Havana (PL). – A British businessman suffering from a cancer that cost him his nose expects to recover the affected organ by a novel technique of reconstruction from its own tissue.  The procedure is being developed by researchers from the University College London (UCL), and it is about making the nasal appendage grow into the patient’s arm in order to transplant it later to the face, hoping also this part can recover the sense of smell.

According to experts, the new nose began to form in a biodegradable mold -based on the original one- with a synthetic material where millions of stem cells were injected.  At the same time they worked the skin of one of the arms, which was extended gradually with a small inflated ball housed beneath the surface. Two months later the ball was replaced by the nose in training, where the appendix is now acquiring networks of nerves and small blood vessels, as well as a skin cover.

After three months, the nose will be grafted into the man’s face, in an operation so precise that it should leave no scars. Whereas his arm will return to normal, said the attending physician team.  Scientists are convinced of the success of the procedure, and they explained that the nasal structure will be even slightly curved to the left, very similar to that lost as a result of their illness.

Some time ago a team of Spanish surgeons rebuilt the face of two children who suffered a serious facial hemiatrophy with adult stem cells extracted from adipose tissue of patients.  This technique, which not only generates volume but also regenerates tissues, is about practicing millimeter punctures in the children abdomen, in order to suck, through liposuction cannulas, the fat that is deposited there.  The material is processed in an aseptic manner, and from the fat are extracted the purest stomach stem cells with the higher regenerative properties, which are mixed with the fatty tissue for immediate re implantation into the patient, in an operation not very complex, they said.

The benefits of this therapy can be transferred to any other soft tissue atrophy, and the results are evident in a few months, because stem cells are regenerated and optimize the quality of the implant after a while, they said.

In fact, a similar technique for breast reconstruction and for improving cardiac function in myocardial infarction has been used.  Besides it has been successful in repairing tissues such as the trachea, esophagus and skeletal muscle in animal and human models, while advancing in the regeneration of organs such as liver, heart and lungs.


Throughout life, cells forming tissues wear out and are degenerated. Advances in medicine based on replacement techniques of damaged tissue have been a revolution not without problems, including the limitation on the number of donor organs, and immunological complications (graft rejection), partly resolved with medication.  It is known that tissue forming part of the body have naturally the intrinsic capacity to self-renew, a process which occurs thanks to the remaining cells with capacity of differentiation.  This has opened a new era in the so-called regenerative medicine using stem cells, which is nothing but exploiting the natural mechanisms of cell renewal to repair damaged tissues, a new concept that opens possible therapeutic paths for certain diseases considered incurable at present.

The old dream of scientists to create organs on demand seems, judging by the progress made, ever closer.

* Journalist of the Science and Technology Editorial Department of Prensa Latina News Agency.


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