In June, doctors successfully replaced a damaged portion of a 30-year-old woman's windpipe with a section grown from her own cells. Claudia Castillo (right) had a 3-centimetre-long collapsed section in her left bronchus from a tuberculosis infection.
Paolo Macchiarini at the University of Barcelona in Spain and his colleagues extracted a stretch of windpipe from a deceased donor. They washed this 25 times over a six-week period to remove all of the donor's cells, leaving only the windpipe's extracellular structure, which they seeded with Claudia's stem cells and cells from the bronchial surface.
The bioengineered trachea was then transplanted, providing Castillo with immediate respiratory relief. It continues to work well.