Scientists grow penis in lab

2009-11-10 12:52

Washington - Researchers have engineered artificial penises in rabbits, using cells from the animals, who then used their new organs to father baby rabbits.

The work takes scientists closer to making other complex solid organs such as livers using a patient's own cells, the researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

It provides a tailor-made transplant, said Dr Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centre's Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who led the study.

"Once the tissue is there, the body recognises the tissue as its own," Atala said in a telephone interview.

Atala focused on the penis because he is a paediatric urologist, who has specialised for years in disorders and congenital defects of the bladder and sexual organs.

Deficient genitalia

"That was the inspiration for this work. We are seeing babies born with deficient genitalia all the time. There are no good options," Atala said.

He is also a specialist in regenerative medicine, which uses the body's own cells to repair damage. In this case, Atala's team used ordinary cells, not the stem cells often used in such research.

Companies such as Geron and privately held Advanced Cell Technology have business models based on such technology.

Atala's team first created a scaffold using the penis of a rabbit, and removed all the living cells from it, leaving only cartilage. They then took a small piece of tissue from the penis of another rabbit and grew the cells in a lab dish.

Atala said the work has taken his team 18 years to complete. "We had to find the right growth factors, the right soup to grow the cells in," he said.

They made sure to have two cell types, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells, the same type of cells that line blood vessels.

The smooth muscle cells made the organ's spongy tissue and the endothelial cells grew into blood vessels - very important in an organ like the penis, which requires good blood supply.

Making bunnies

The cells were seeded onto the scaffold, and six weeks later the researchers had penises to graft onto rabbits that had their penises removed.

The animals seemed to realize they had working organs again - the 12 with the grafts tried to mate with female rabbits within one minute of being put into cages with them, and four of the female rabbits became pregnant.

Those with the scaffolding alone and no working tissue did not even try.

Atala is hoping the procedure will work with people, perhaps starting with adult men who have had damage to their organs.

"Patients with congenital anomalies, penile cancer, traumatic penile injury, and some types of organic erectile dysfunction could benefit from this technology in the future," the team wrote in the report.

The process takes six weeks from beginning to end, he said, and there is reason to believe a penis grafted onto a baby would grow with the child.

Atala hopes the approach will work with other organs. "We have made clitoral tissue in the past," he said. "We have extensive work going on with kidneys and livers."

Atala's team started their experiments with replacement bladders grown from patients' cells. Patients fitted with artificial bladders have been enjoying good function for 10 years now, Atala said.

Read more on:    science  |  stem cell research  |  animals  |  health  |  rabbits
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 19:35 PM
    Road name: M7 Vanguard Drive
    ROADWORKS - traffic restrictions between the R300 and Highlands Drive - expect delays
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come up to alert you of your security needs. It may be that you need to create a better structure for your finances...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.