For certain amphibians and reptiles, regrowing body parts is a piece of cake. But for us humans, it’s just not something that’s built into our physiology. Although individual cells in our body are constantly being replaced as they wear out, regenerating entire organs and body parts has been a long-standing dream of modern medicine. But now, thanks to advancements in stem cell research, scientists have successfully cultivated a range of human body structures that have been successfully tested in animals, and small-scale human organs known as “organoids,” which have been used to study human organ function at an unprecedented level of detail. Here are some of the lab-made body parts scientists are hoping will soon revolutionize transplant surgery.
For anyone missing an ear, the process of rebuilding it can be difficult and distressful, involving the painful removal of cartilage from the patient’s ribs. However, a new technique developed by physicians at Cornell University is promising to make things easier. By 3D printing synthetic ears and coating them with living cells that grow around the frame, the researchers can then inject it with a cocktail of living ear cells and collagen from cows. In the past, fabricated ears have been implanted onto rats so scientists could evaluate changes in size and shape as the organs grow over time. It’s believed the technique could one day be used to help people with missing or deformed outer ears.