1 Ott Lab researchers
pump human cells
into a rat lung that
has had its own
2 The process begins
by hooking the
of an animal organ,
in this case a pig
lung, to a pump that
through the organ.
3 As the detergent
works its way
through, the animal
cells are washed
away. This changes
the color of the lung
from pink to white.
4 The lab has
also used the
remove cells from
human lungs, as
shown here, for
use as sca;olds.
Harald Ott, a surgeon at Harvard Medical
School, thinks that his lab’s unusual
methods might someday solve the organ-
transplant crisis. On average, 20 peo-
ple in the United States die every day
awaiting donor organs for transplant,
according to the American Transplant
Foundation. If Ott’s idea works, it could
one day eliminate the need for an organ
The lab chemically treats organs from
rats and pigs to remove all their cells, leaving behind an empty sca;olding. The researchers then populate the sca;old with
stem cells from a patient, hoping to create
an organ that the human body will accept.
In the most recent work, the lab is
using a technique Ott helped develop
called lung regeneration, transforming
lungs from rats and pigs into human-compatible ones. Though rat lungs aren’t
suitable as human transplants, they provide an excellent means to test the regeneration procedure.