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Breathing lungs, straight from the lab

by BOB VON STERNBERG ,  Star Tribune | 2010-06-25

Two years after researchers at the University of Minnesota grew a beating heart in a jar, they've created breathing lungs.

For the second time, scientists used a novel stem cell technology to create a living organ in the laboratory.

Clinical application is still some time distant, but the technique eventually could increase the number of lungs available for transplant into people suffering from lung cancer and irreversible lung disease, according to lead scientist Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari.

The breakthrough also represents a coup in the U's effort to advance its reputation for stem-cell research and to produce science that can be translated into practical applications.

"This is just a first step,'' Panoskaltsis-Mortari said Thursday. "There's a lot of work that still needs to be done.''

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