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Medical Any chance of an artificial Lymph gland?

  1. May 23, 2010 #1


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    Many people have Lymph glands / nodes (?) removed during cancer surgery. This, I believe, gives rise to a lot of subsequent problems due to high levels of fluid which has not been returned to the bloodstream.
    We can make dialysis machines which keep people alive for years and it seems a not too dissimilar function. I have never heard of artificial help / transplants / implants for the lymphatic system. Why is this?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2010 #2
    The issue is that the blood is easily contained in vessels, under pressure. Lymph can be siphoned, but it pervades tissue, so dialysis is flat out. Transplantation of lymph nodes would be instant rejection, so the only treatment I can imagine would be cloning or stem cell therapies which do not yet exist. It would be easier to grow and transplant a liver or heart.
  4. May 24, 2010 #3
    In answer, no.

    A general problem with transplants is that they are rejected by the body. The body does not recognize it as its own system, and makes antibodies to attack and destroy it. People with transplants have to be on immunosupressant drugs the rest of their lives, so that their immune system does not attack the needed organ.

    So, lymph is part of the immune system. It would just attack it, like any other transplant, and immonsupressant drugs would be dumb, since it IS part of the immune system.

    So NO, that would be bad.
  5. May 24, 2010 #4
    Well said. :)
  6. May 24, 2010 #5
    I try. :wink:

    In all seriousness, this is a major problem in most transplants. That's why we are trying to advance stem cells so much- because the body would not reject that kind of grown organ/tissue/etc.
  7. May 24, 2010 #6
    True, of course if a couple of those cells doesn't make to Lymph-land, you're going to have neoplasms as PART of the Lymph tissue, and it we've seen what happens to most people in that situation. Better to be without some lymph nodes until a cloning method for the tissue can be perfected. As I said, Livers and hearts are easier! What a concept that is, but true.
  8. May 24, 2010 #7
    Kinda sad, too.
  9. May 24, 2010 #8
    Perhaps in a few years people like Anthony Atala will grow a lymph gland using the recipients tissues and then it won't be rejected. I realize a lymph gland is more complex than a bladder but the bladder was old news and I would bet his technique has included more complex organs by now. Of course medical culture might take a long time to adapt to the idea of vat-grown organs and who knows how long (maybe even weeks or a few months) to grow one or what the price will be.
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  10. May 25, 2010 #9


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    This is interesting info. Thanks, people.
    I wonder whether any though has been given to grafting healthy lymph glands from one place to another in a patient's body. Lymph glands are not part of the general anatomical knowledge that you get from School and The Press so I have no idea how complex they are. But we do have quite a lot of them all over our bodies and, on a superficial level, it would seem to be a good idea to spread them out if possible.
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