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Pioneering Medical Breakthrough: Mouse Lungs Successfully Grown in Rats

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In a world-first, researchers at the Phoenix Children’s Research Institute, part of the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Phoenix, have achieved a significant medical milestone that could pave the way for groundbreaking treatments of lung diseases.

This innovative research marks a crucial step toward the potential of creating human lungs using large animals as bioreactors.

The Groundbreaking Research

Led by the internationally recognized lung development and regeneration researcher, Dr. Vladimir Kalinichenko, the team utilized a combination of genome editing and blastocyst complementation.

This process involves injecting murine embryonic stem cells into blastocyst-stage embryos in rats to produce mouse lungs within the rats. The study, titled “CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing Allows Generation of the Mouse Lung in a Rat,” not only showcases the potential for generating human lungs but also represents a beacon of hope for babies born with chronic lung diseases due to prematurity or severe genetic conditions.

The Implications for Pediatric Healthcare

Dr. Kalinichenko’s research opens up new possibilities for treating severe forms of lung disease associated with respiratory failure in pediatric patients. Currently, these patients often require transplantable lung tissues—a need that this study proves could be met by generating transplantable lungs from stem cells using large animals as bioreactors.

Dr. Vladimir Kalinichenko
Vladimir Kalinichenko, MD, PhD, Director for the Phoenix Children’s Research Institute at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Bruce Yeung Photography.

This approach could significantly reduce the risk of immune response rejection following lung transplantation, thanks to the utilization of CRISPR-Cas9 technology for precise genome editing.

A Step Towards Saving Lives

The Phoenix Children’s Research Institute’s endeavor is not just a testament to their commitment to advancing medical science but also holds the promise of saving lives in the future.

By developing lung tissues that consist almost entirely of mouse lung cells, the team has made a leap forward in bioengineering and embryonic stem cell technology, moving us closer to the day when human lung transplants from such innovative methods become a reality.

About Phoenix Children’s Research Institute

Launched in May 2023, the Phoenix Children’s Research Institute solidifies the collaboration between Phoenix Children’s health system and the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

With over 700 active studies, 640 research investigators, and 90 research staff members, the Institute engages in multifaceted clinical disciplines research, including cancer, neurology, cardiology, and pulmonology, aiming to elevate pediatric care, education, and innovation.

*** All content on is for informational purposes only. All medical questions and concerns should always be consulted with your licensed healthcare provider.

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