Growing body parts could be a new way to replace organs in people. Four women in Chicago were born with abnormal vagina. Doctors grew new vaginas in the lab from cells from these four women.
Growing body parts in the lab could be utilized to replace organs in other people. Abnormal tracheas, bladders and urethras could be replaced by using this method.
New grown body parts are no different from normal organs. The new body parts will even grow as the person goes through the teen-age years. These women had the new vaginas transplanted before they were teens. When the young women have intercourse, they claim to have had no problems. Their menstrual cycles were normal as well.
What is not so clear is whether these women can have children using grown body parts. A doctor from North Carolina says that because the women were menstruating, suggests something odd about their ovaries. If their ovaries are working, the women should be able to have babies.
This new-found ability to grow body parts comes from the field of regenerative medicine. This field is making use of the human body’s ability to regenerate and replace cells. In fact, this field of study has been addressed in the medical journal called the Lancet.
Based on the work of regenerative study, the process of growing vaginas starts by taking a small amount of cells from the genital tissue. From these cells, the scientists grew epithelial and muscle cells. Epithelial cells are cells that are found in body cavities. After growing the cells for a month, the team of scientists put the cells in layers on a scaffold that is composed of collagen. Collagen can be absorbed by the body. This scaffold is then placed in an incubator. The incubator takes a week to fully grow the organ. This new vagina is then surgically placed in the woman’s body and attached to the reproductive organ. After attachment, the surgeon does not do anything. He or she can watch as the nerves and blood vessels form in the new organ. The scaffold is eventually absorbed into the body.
After an operation in Mexico City, scientist continued to watch these women to make sure nothing goes wrong with the new implants. The team took tissue samples and did MRI scans as well as regular physicals. The tests and tissue samples showed that these grown vaginas were no different from regular vaginas. The team closely monitored these new women for eight years.
There was a commentary in the Lancet about these four women and issues regarding growing body parts in the laboratory. According to reports, scientist worry about whether new organs will fit the new bodies. They asks what will happen with more complex organs like vaginas. Perhaps these issues will be resolved once the process has been sufficiently repeated over the course of time.
Growing body parts in the laboratory could be a way to replace organs in people. These women with grown vaginas demonstrate that scientist may have finally discovered a way to replace failed organs.
By Tom Clark