Israeli scientists say they’ve created first fully personalized tissue implant

Tel Aviv University researchers convert fat cells into stem cells, then grow them into any required tissue — including for the heart and brain

Prof. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University (Courtesy TAU)
Prof. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University (Courtesy TAU)

Researchers at Tel Aviv University say they have created the first fully personalized tissue implants, based entirely on a patient’s own cells.

According to Prof. Tal Dvir of TAU’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, researchers have managed to create tissue for various organs that are 100 percent compatible with transplant patients, as they are grown from cells extracted from the patient.

The process has been successful with animal subjects, and the scientists hope human trials could follow soon.

Fatty tissue cells were extracted from subjects, then converted into stem cells that can be manipulated to generate any tissue type needed by the body.

Current processes to create such implants involve biologic material not derived from the patient, leading to potential rejection by the immune system and associated dangers. But the TAU researchers say they’ve succeeded in creating tissue with only the original cells, minimizing such risks.

“We were able to create a personalized hydrogel from the materials of the biopsy, to differentiate fatty tissue cells into different cell types and to engineer cardiac, spinal cord, cortical and other tissue implants to treat different diseases,” Dvir said.

“Since both the cells and the material used derive from the patient, the implant does not provoke an immune response, ensuring proper regeneration of the defected organ,” he added.

Dvir said the new technology could be used to “engineer any tissue type, and after transplantation we can efficiently regenerate any diseased or injured organ — a heart after a heart attack, a brain after trauma or with Parkinson’s disease, a spinal cord after injury. In addition, we can engineer adipogenic (fatty tissue) implants for reconstructive surgeries or cosmetics. These implants will not be rejected by the body.”

Dvir told Forbes: “It works in animals. We saw complete regeneration in three months in mice and rats. With the heart, we are even more advanced. However, as we all know, animals and humans are different. We hope to prove that the technology works in humans as well.”

The study was recently published in scientific journal Advanced Materials.

“Theoretically we can work in every disease or disorder that cells are involved in, where tissue is dying. We can create the tissue to fix that injury by a simple injection of materials and cells at the injury site,” he said. “We will replace diseased tissue with new tissue.”

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