For the Science for Life Extension Foundation the main result of the year was the first in Russia unique transplant surgery of a trachea grown from the patient’s own stem cells inside her body. The surgery based on Professor Paolo Macchiarini’s technique was carried out in December in the Petrovsky Research Center of Surgery of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow.
The Foundation spent a full year and a half in order to bring this technology to Russia. We fully financed this project and organized the work between all the collaborators – Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Petrovsky Research Center of Surgery, Careggi University Hospital in Florence, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of biomaterials. The total cost of the project was $330, 000.
Last summer when we learned about the unique surgeries done by Macchiarini, we went to Barcelona where he was the Head of the Thoracic Surgery Department in the Hospital Clinic. We agreed to have him visit Moscow to share his experience with Russian specialists. In February 2010, Paolo gave a master class in the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. It was at that time when an agreement was reached on introducing his technique in Russia.
In August 2010 Macchiarini came to Russia again to sign the research and clinical collaboration contract with the Petrovsky Research Center of Surgery. Earlier this fall the Foundation organized the training for the employees of the Petrovsky Center in the Department of Regenerative Surgery and Bio-transplantation at the Careggi University Hospital in Florence, where Professor Macchiarini is the current department head.They studied the process of trachea preparation for transplantation and could watch the surgery live. Previously, there had been seven other tissue engineered trachea transplants that were performed in Western Europe and none in the US.
So, on December, 7 such a surgery was carried out in Moscow. The patient was a 26-year old woman. In 2006 she was hit by a car where she sustained very serious injuries, went through a clinical death and stayed comatose for several months. She was unable to breathe on her own and had a tube in her trachea for a long time. As a result the trachea was damaged. Doctors in Kazakhstan, Israel and China couldn’t help the girl breathe normally. She required constant medical attention and was forced to permanently live in a clinic with frequent surgical interventions..
Then the patient’s mother took her to Moscow, so that she could undergo surgery using Macchiarini’s technique. The technology is as follows: a trachea taken from a dead donor is treated with special compounds until there’s no donor cells left, which elliminates the rejection problem and there’s no need to supress the patient’s immune system. Before the transplantation, the obtained scaffold is treated with the patient’s bone marrow cells and also cells from the mucosa, so that the inner mucosa of the treachea can be formed afterwards. Plus the growth factors are added. There’s also a biodegradable stent placed inside the new trachea. The patient’s body in this case plays a role of the bioreactor, inside of which the new healthy organ is formed during a couple of weeks.
Right now the patient is ready to be discharged – she can talk, breathes much better, is able to walk and undergo a physical load.
This surgery is a great beginning to the implementation of regenerative medicine technologies into human clinical practice. These technologies provide a wide perspective for treating severe illnesses associated with loss of vital organs and tissues and also has let Russian research and clinical institutions become a major player in the international consortium for regenerative medicine.