Ott originally began to develop this
technique while studying at the University of Minnesota (see “Creating a Heart,”
May/June 2008). In the decade since then,
his lab has made strides in deciphering the
conditions under which stem cells develop
into functioning organs.
So far the team has been able to transplant organs re-created with human stem
cells back into pigs and rats. Given that the
organs have human cells foreign to the animals, they stay alive for only about a week.
But the experiments are evidence that
these organs can work in a living organism.
Though the early results are promising, tests in humans are still a ways o;.
The lab also hasn’t yet determined if pig
lungs or human lungs will ultimately be
the optimal source for sca;olds.
“I feel something
we all share here
is the belief this
really could work.”
—Sarah Gilpin, researcher at
the Ott Lab
7 A rat lung sits in an
incubator where a
culture medium is
the organ, growth
factors are added,
and oxygen is introduced to make the