Man grows new nose
Man grows new nose In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells
Man grows new nose
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In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in a bold attempt to make body parts in the laboratory.

It's far from the only lab in the world that is pursuing the futuristic idea of growing organs for transplant. But the London work was showcased Tuesday as Mayor Boris Johnson announced a plan to attract more labs to do cutting-edge health and science research in the area.

While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells.

"It's like making a cake," said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. "We just use a different kind of oven."

British authorities have invested nearly 4 million pounds ($6.7 million) in the plan to stimulate research in the London-Oxford-Cambridge area. It aims to attract companies to the area to foster collaboration and promote research and manufacturing. A major center for biological research will open in London next year.

University College London is a partner in the campaign. During a recent visit to his lab there, Seifalian showed off a sophisticated machine used to make molds from a polymer material for various organs.

Last year, he and his team used that material to mold a nose for a British man who lost his to cancer. Then they added a salt and sugar solution to the mold to mimic the somewhat sponge-like texture of a natural nose. Stem cells were taken from the patient's fat and grown in the lab for two weeks before being used to cover the nose scaffold. Later, the nose was implanted into the man's forearm so that skin would grow to cover it.

Seifalian said he and his team are waiting for approval from regulatory authorities to transfer the nose onto the patient's face but couldn't say when that might happen.

The polymer material Seifalian uses for his organ scaffolds has been patented and he's also applied for patents for their blood vessels, tear ducts and windpipes. He and his team are creating other organs including coronary arteries and ears. Later this year, a trial is scheduled to start in India and London to test lab-made ears for people born without them.

"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.

"At the moment, children who need new ears have to go through a really invasive procedure involving taking cartilage from their ribs," Griffin said. She added they plan to eventually create an entirely synthetic face but must first prove their polymer scaffolds won't accidentally burst out of the skin.

"Scientists have to get things like noses and ears right before we can move onto something like a kidney, lungs or a liver, which is much more complicated," said Eileen Gentleman, a stem cell expert at King's College London, who is not involved in Seifalian's research. "What (Seifalian) has created is the correct structure and the fact that it's good enough for his patients to have a functional (windpipe), tear duct, etc. is pretty amazing," she said.

Some scientists predicted certain lab-made organs will soon cease to be experimental.

"I'm convinced engineered organs are going to be on the market soon," said Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, a professor of transplantation biology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. She has transferred lab-made blood vessels into a handful of patients and plans to offer them more widely by 2016, pending regulatory approval.

Seifalian hopes lab-made organs will one day be available for a few hundred dollars.

"If people are not that fussy, we could manufacture different sizes of noses so the surgeon could choose a size and tailor it for patients before implanting it," he said. "People think your nose is very individual and personal but this is something that we could mass produce like in a factory one day."

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  • im23nolife
    4/23/2014 - 08:43 a.m.

    This shows that we are truly advanced in science, and I can just imagine the other things that we have done but have yet to see. In my head I believe that we are probably as far along as teleporting.

  • RMansaray123
    4/23/2014 - 08:44 a.m.

    The worlds technology keeps getting better and better. I wonder when people are going to stop coming up with ideas. I think that's impossible because look at what they've come up with now. They're recreating humans for gods sakes! Is this the step we're taking to create humans then actually give birth to them? Are these the starting of living robots. We don't know. Right now, they've mastered the art of making noes and ears for those who don't have them and i could guarantee that it would take more than a lifetime to create a living human be scratch.

  • morgank-Koc
    4/23/2014 - 09:13 a.m.

    That's cool how they can make parts of a human. So many lives would be saved of people who need transplants. But there might be long term effect maybe the nose they made grows weak.

  • madelines-Ste
    4/23/2014 - 10:35 a.m.

    I think that this is a little weird to be growing body parts and they expect them to work that would be weird if someone lost a nose and they gave them another real nose I would be a little freaked out

    • ZandraHomer-Lar
      4/25/2014 - 11:56 a.m.

      i know right. I wonder who came up with that kind of stuff to grow body parts. That's like really unique and when you tell other people, they aren't going to believe you.

  • alexpo-Hen
    4/23/2014 - 10:55 a.m.

    That is cool. I would like to get multiple noses. ha. This could also help if people are not donating organs. Thiat is realy cool

  • dennisk-Koc
    4/23/2014 - 11:40 a.m.

    This article is very different and interesting but I'd very cool and useful. If it actually works a a we do this in the future than it will help a lot of people to get back body parts that they should of never lost.

  • crouchta1-gag
    4/23/2014 - 12:36 p.m.

    y would some budey make a new nose how needs a new nose and how did he make it looks like
    it has been cut off.

  • Mk11pink
    4/23/2014 - 12:58 p.m.

    This is really cool and neat and will help alot of people. I think its kind of weird to compare making noses and ears to making cake.

  • CN23green
    4/23/2014 - 12:58 p.m.

    That is the weirdest thing I have ever seen. I never knew people could grow new body parts that way. At least it could help people get body parts they need.

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