August 20, 2010

Organs on-demand

It won't be long before surgeons routinely install replacement body parts created in the laboratory:
Anthony Atala works in the body shop of the future. He is the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and he and his colleagues use human cells to grow muscles, blood vessels, skin and even a complete urinary bladder. Much of the work is experimental and hasn’t yet been tested in human patients, but Atala has implanted laboratory-grown bladders into more than two dozen children and young adults born with defective bladders that don’t empty properly, a condition that can cause kidney damage. The bladders were the first lab-generated human organs implanted in people. If they continue to perform well in clinical tests, the treatment may become standard not only for birth defects of the bladder but also for bladder cancer and other conditions.

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