Growing Female Organs in the Lab

Scientists help teens born with rare disorder.

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say they successfully grew female sex organs for four women. The patients cells were left to grow on a scaffold in the lab.

Dr. Anthony Atala says, "we then create a 3-dimensional model that looks like the organ that would fit into that specific patient. We coat that mold with the patient's own cells. We then place the structure in an oven like device to let it cook, if you will, it has the same conditions as the human body. "

According to Dr. Atala, after the surgery, nerves and blood vessels form around the lab-grown organ, and the body creates a permanent support structure for it. The four teenage women who received the organs all had a rare genetic condition. They were born without vaginal organs.

Dr. Anthony Atala says he and his team followed the women for up to 8 years and found the organs functioned normally. The Wake Forest  group is working on about 30 different tissues and organs in the lab.

With a major shortage of organs, researchers hope their work in the lab will someday help relieve the crisis.

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