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Trachea Transplants Test the Limits

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Science  19 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6130, pp. 266-268
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6130.266

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June 2008 was the first time a patient received a trachea transplant that made use of her own stem cells, in what was then the most advanced example of tissue engineering. Since then, 14 other patients have received bioengineered tracheas. Some observers wonder if the surgeries are really examples of successful tissue engineering that utilize the special abilities of stem cells or an elaborate temporary fix that is destined to fail. Two surgeons are trying to address the doubts of their approach with clinical trials, but others contend that, before pushing ahead, the trachea pioneers should focus on understanding what happens to the grafts over the long term.