Researchers announce oesophagus regeneration trial

A team led by Professor Paolo De Coppi has announced that they are set to build and transplant an oesophagus using organs harvested from pigs and then modified using a child’s stem cells. The organs will be created for children who are born with a severe cases of oesophageal atresia, where their oesophagus has not formed properly. 

Oesophagus taken from pigs will be stripped of their cells to create an animal scaffold. The tissue will then be engineered using the child’s stem cells taken shortly after birth from the residual oesophagus. This will minimize the risk of transplant rejection.

Professor De Coppi, who is supported with funding from the NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital BRCm and his team hope to carry out the first transplant in 2018 following approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency*.

Initial work was funded by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the UK Stem Cell Foundation. The clinical translation has been supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

This work is part of the BRC’s new research theme for the 2017–2022 funding term – Advanced treatments for structural malformations and tissue damage.

*Update March 2019: Additional pre-clinical research is currently being undertaken in animal models in order to provide comprehensive data to support a future MHRA application and prospective clinical trial.