Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Scientists Make Body Parts In Lab

Britain Growing Body Parts 

Dr Michelle Griffin, a plastic research fellow, poses for photographs with a synthetic polymer ear at her research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London, Monday, March 31, 2014. In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far— including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes — researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells. "It's like making a cake," said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. "We just use a different kind of oven."

In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in a bold attempt to make body parts in the laboratory. 

It's far from the only lab in the world that is pursuing the futuristic idea of growing organs for transplant. But the London work was showcased Tuesday as Mayor Boris Johnson announced a plan to attract more labs to do cutting-edge health and science research in the area.

While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far— including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes — researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells.

"It's like making a cake," said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. "We just use a different kind of oven."

British authorities have invested nearly 4 million pounds ($6.7 million) in the plan to stimulate research in the London-Oxford-Cambridge area. It aims to attract companies to the area to foster collaboration and promote research and manufacturing. A major center for biological research will open in London next year.

University College London is a partner in the campaign. During a recent visit to his lab there, Seifalian showed off a sophisticated machine used to make molds from a polymer material for various organs.

Last year, he and his team used that material to mold a nose for a British man who lost his to cancer. Then they added a salt and sugar solution to the mold to mimic the somewhat sponge-like texture of a natural nose. Stem cells were taken from the patient's fat and grown in the lab for two weeks before being used to cover the nose scaffold. Later, the nose was implanted into the man's forearm so that skin would grow to cover it.

For the rest of the story: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/uk-scientists-make-body-parts-lab

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