Australian scientists have claimed a breakthrough in human tissue engineering, bringing hope to revolutionize the treatment of heart disease and breast cancer.
A team of Melbourne surgeons and scientists has grown "three- dimensional" cells from human tissue inside a plastic chamber -- the initial step in creating replacement organs and injured body parts, The Australian daily reported on Thursday.
Scientists had only been able to create "two-dimensional" constructions, such as skin, in a laboratory setting.
Lead researcher Wayne Morrison said the breakthrough would one day lead to the "creation of organs, including parts of the heart, in the laboratory using the patients own tissue" which could then be implanted in a body to continue developing.
"Currently we've been able to make breast tissue, fat muscle, pancreas tissues that produce insulin, and also sinus tissue, said Morrison, a professor from the Bernard O'Brien Institute of microsurgery.
The researchers use a plastic chamber to implant a blood vessel using microsurgery, before mixing cells inside the chamber and let them grow into the environment created.
In a three-dimensional structure, the cells begin to behave as they would in a tissue or organ, eventually maturing into fully functional tissues and organs. As it is the patient's own tissue, there is no chance of rejection.
The scientists hope to start the human tests within the next few years.