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Stem cell breakthrough enters permanent national exhibition

Groundbreaking work by researchers at the University of Bristol that signalled a new age in surgical care by helping to save a woman’s life has been celebrated in the Science Museum’s new exhibition, ‘Who am I?’.

In 2008, the first bioengineered windpipe, made from the patient's own stem cells, was successfully transplanted into a young woman whose airway had been badly damaged after a severe case of tuberculosis.  The operation ultimately saved Claudia Castillo's life by allowing to her to breathe normally again – her only alternative would have been to remove her left lung, which would have left her impaired for life.

The cartilage cells used in the operation were grown using a method originally devised for treating osteoarthritis by Anthony Hollander, Arthritis Research UK Professor of Rheumatology and Tissue Engineering at the University of Bristols School of Medical Sciences.

A piece of cartilage engineered in a similar way now forms part of the Science Museum's upgrade to its permanent 'Who am I?' exhibition, forming part of a display demonstrating how new technology, from stem cells to gene therapy, can help to repair damage caused by serious illness with life-changing results.

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