The line waiting for organ donors is 112,381 people long and growing, and 18 people daily die waiting. To help patients survive the interim, scientists are working on "organoinds"—mini organs that would temporarily operate outside the body.
Dr. Rober Hariri, a surgeon and CEO of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, is using stem cells derived from placentas (a refreshingly non-conroversial source of stem cells), to build the temporary organs. He devised a method for implanting the stem cells into a tissue matrix made from cells taken from cadavers. If the matrix is made of, say, kidney cells, the stem cells will take cues from their environment and also transform into kidney cells.
The drawing depicts stem cells being extracted from a placenta.
The resulting glob is a mini-organ that could temporarily perform the functions of a failing human liver, kidney, heart, and possibly any other human organ. The patients' blood would be filtered through the organ through tubes.
"This could be the way we build replacement parts," Hariri said.
You can check out their patent here. Hariri will talk more about his progress with organoids at the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society annual meeting in Houston in December.
You can keep up with our Science Editor, Kristen Philipkoski, on Twitter, Facebook, and occasionally Google+