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UK Scientists Grow Body Parts in the Lab

Update Date: Apr 08, 2014 11:01 AM EDT
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Scientists from the United Kingdom are growing body parts in the lab. The researchers have created noses, ears and blood vessels at a north London hospital as a part of their study to create body parts via stem cells.

"It's like making a cake," described Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the lead scientist behind the research. "We just use a different kind of oven."

So far, the lab, which is just one of many throughout the world, has created several body parts for potential patients. These parts include tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes. Just last year, the team of scientists developed an entire nose for a British man who lost his nose due to cancer. The first step in making that nose was to use a salt and sugar solution that helped mold the nose and make the texture similar to that of a real human nose. The second step was to use the stem cells taken from the patient's own fat and grow it in the lab for two weeks. The cells were then used to encase the nose scaffold. The end product was implanted into the man's forearm where skin would grow and cover it.

The team is now waiting for approval before the nose can be implanted onto the man's face. Even though they have not gotten the go to use the nose, the scientists have continued to create new body parts. Their next project is a trial that will test the effects of lab-created ears for people who are born without them. The trial will be conducted in India and London later on this year.

"Ears are harder to make than noses because you have to get all the contours right and the skin is pulled tight so you see its entire structure," said Dr. Michelle Griffin, a plastic surgeon who has made dozens of ears and noses in Seifalian's lab reported by ABC News. "At the moment, children who need new ears have to go through a really invasive procedure involving taking cartilage from their ribs."

So far, the scientists have gotten and applied for several patents, which include the polymer material that they created for organ scaffolds. Seifalian's lab has also gotten recognition for their work, which is being showcased this Tuesday in London.

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