Two patients received a transplanted synthetic part, about 2 inches long, consisting of a section of the windpipe, or trachea.
At the top of the transplanted section was a version of the cricoid arch and plate, a hollow, collar-like segment that forms the base of the larynx, surgeons said.
"The cricoid is the most simple part of the larynx to transplant," Paolo Macchiarini of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, head of the surgical team that performed the operations, told NewScientist.com
Previous transplants of parts of larynxes and entire larynxes came from dead donors and were stripped of their native cells and re-coated with the patients' own cells to avoid rejection.
The latest operations were different, in that they involved a synthetic structure rather than a graft from a cadaver, which before the transplantation was seeded with stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow, so that once transplanted it would grow its own layers of native surface cells, the surgeons said.
The seeding was performed by Harvard Bioscience in Massachusetts.
"We see this as the beginning of growing synthetic organs," the company's president, David Green, said. "It's the stuff of scientific fiction becoming medical reality."
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