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Genden said that Castillo's progress needed to be closely monitored. "Time will tell if this lasts," he said. Genden added that it can take up to three years to know if the windpipe's cartilage structure is solid and won't fall apart.
People who might benefit include children born with defective airways, people with scars or tumours in their windpipes, and those with collapsed windpipes.
Martin Birchall, who grew Castillo's cells at the University of Bristol, said that the technique might even be adapted to other organs.
"Patients engineering their own tissues is the key way forward," said Dr. Patrick Warnke, a surgeon at the University of Kiel in Germany. Warnke is also growing patients' tissues from stem cells for transplants.
Warnke predicted that doctors might one day be able to produce organs in the laboratory from patients' own stem cells. "That is still years away, but we need pioneering approaches like this to solve the problem," he said.
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