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This Twin Cities company is 'building' organs, and it could cut down transplant wait times

Updated: December 12, 2019 06:53 PM

It almost sounds like science fiction: A Twin Cities medical company is bioengineering organs like kidneys and livers with the hopes of one day using them in patients who are in need of a transplant.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, there are about 113,000 candidates on a waiting list for an organ transplants.

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One possible solution to end the waiting is to bioengineer them.

"We can actually fast track the whole process," said Miromatrix Medical CEO Jeff Ross.

The company starts with a discarded organ from an animal and then uses a solution to dissolve the animal cells. Afterward, it leaves the structure or matrix of the organ known as a "ghost organ."

Then the company takes the ghost organ and moves it into an incubator and adds human cells through a bioreactor. A new organ is created in just four to five weeks.

So far, the company has grown thousands of organs at Miromatrix Medical as it attempts to fine-tune the process. Ross compared it to remodeling a house.

"You can go in and take out the sheetrock, those are the cells. But you still have the plumbing, and more importantly, you still have the architecture intact," he said.

Right now, they are transplanting their bioengineered organs into animals to see if they will function. But they eventually hope to launch clinical trials on humans in 2022.

Miromatrix is a private, for-profit company that would be selling its product to medical institutions. It's too soon to pinpoint costs and pricing, but Ross said he expects the costs will be comparable to those associated with the current practice of organ procurement.

Editor's Note: KSTP-TV ownership has a financial investment in Miromatrix.

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Credits

Ellen Galles

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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