While the procedure seems to have worked in a few patients, many experts said the method is still in the earliest stages of development. "You never know what to do or how to interpret a success when it's one success," said Dr. Larry Goldstein, director of the stem cell program at University of California San Diego. "The question you grapple with is whether this treatment is going to be good with a larger number of people with this disease."
According to Putnam, should the treatment work for a wider group, the challenge may be in delivering such a specialized processed to a large number of people. "There's a lot of infrastructure that has to be established to grow these cells and maintain the tracheal scaffolds," said Putnam. "You can't get these off the shelves; they have to be individually constructed which takes time and effort."