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Researchers transplant lab-grown lungs into pigs
Pigs that received the lungs survived for 10 hours, two weeks, one month and two months after the procedure.
Study offers hope for humans living with severe lung disease

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) have successfully transplanted genetically-engineered lungs into adult pigs.

Writing in Science Translational Medicine, researchers describe how they created the lungs using a ‘support scaffold’ and that all of the pig recipients stayed healthy - some for up to two months. They also note that just two weeks after transplantation, the lab-grown lungs established a strong network of blood vessels which is essential for the lung to survive.

“We saw no signs of pulmonary oedema, which is usually a sign of the vasculature not being mature enough,” explained study authors Joan Nichols and Joaquin Cortiella. “The bioengineered lungs continued to develop post-transplant without any infusions of growth factors, the body provided all of the building blocks that the new lungs needed.”

In the study, researchers treated lungs from unrelated animals with a concoction of sugar and detergent. This process removes all of the blood and cells in the lung, leaving only the scaffolding proteins - or the lung’s skeleton - behind.

The team placed the lung scaffolds into tanks filled with a mixture of nutrients, before carefully adding the animals’ own cells. The bioengineered lungs were then grown in a bioreactor for 30 days prior to transplantation. Pigs that received the lungs survived for 10 hours, two weeks, one month and two months after the procedure.

Nichols explained that the study’s aim was to ascertain how well the bioengineered lungs adapted and continued to mature within a living body. The team did not, however, analyse how much they provided oxygen to the animal.

“We do know that the animals had 100 per cent oxygen saturation, as they had one normal functioning lung,” said Cortiella. “Even after two months, the bioengineered lung was not yet mature enough for us to stop the animal from breathing on the normal lung and switch to just the bioengineered lung.”

Future research will now focus on long-term survival, the maturation of tissues and gas exchange capability. The team are confident that with enough funding they could grow lungs to transplant into people in as little as five to 10 years. 

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ZSL London Zoo shares animal X-rays

News Story 1
 A selection of X-ray images showing the inner workings of frogs, turtles, snakes and geckos have been shared by veterinary surgeons at ZSL London Zoo.

Taken as part of a routine health check, the images have been shared as part of ‘Vets in Action’ week - a hand’s on role-playing experience for children that explores the life of a zoo vet.

ZSL London Zoo veterinary nurse Heather Mackintosh said: “It’s great to be able to share the work that goes on behind the scenes at the Zoo to keep our residents in tip-top condition – and our visitors are always amazed to find out more about their favourite animals.” 

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Vets in developing nations given free access to BSAVA’s online library

BSAVA has teamed up with the WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to offer vets in developing nations free access to its online library.

The Association’s ‘Foundation Collection’ is comprised of more than 70 hours of articles, lectures and book chapters covering topics such as basic handling skills, working on a budget and emergency triage. Some of the countries set to benefit include Albania, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.

Nicolette Hayward, of BSAVA International Affairs Committee said: “Our mission is to promote excellence in small animal practice through education and science, so we are delighted to work with WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to share these high-quality resources to the veterinary profession in low and middle-income countries.”