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Whole Organ Grown In Animal For First Time 77

An anonymous reader writes British scientists have produced the first working organ grown from scratch in a living animal. Reprogrammed cells created in a lab were used in a mouse to produce a thymus. The organ was created using connective tissue cells from a mouse embryo and were converted into a different cell strain by changing a genetic switch in their DNA. The resulting cells grew into the whole organ after being injected. It has only been tested on mice so far, but researchers at Edinburgh University say that within a decade the procedure could be effective and safe enough for humans. The findings were published in Nature Cell Biology.
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Whole Organ Grown In Animal For First Time

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  • Re:Sweet. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @05:03PM (#47751541)

    I would think that the replacement surgery would still come with some risks.

    The surgery will come with risks, but the organ rejection won't be one of them. Get some of your cells scraped out and have a batch of essential organs grown for you.

    Family history of heart attack? Start a couple spare hearts.
    Drinking problem? A spare liver-mass to cut donations off of and a couple backup kidneys.
    Afraid of diabetes? Get a spare pancreas ready in case the one you're using breaks down.
    Former smoker? Fresh, unspoiled lungs, just wait for them to grow.

    Other, more recreational demands? Feels more natural than silicone because it is!
    Alternately: Gain 3 inches in just 8 hours of precarious microsurgery and a 6 week recovery period when peeing will be like a taste of hell!

  • Re:Sweet. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @05:05PM (#47751553) Homepage Journal

    This is big pharma. There's a university-industrial complex out there, that researches then produces new treatments. This is step 1 of how those companies you hate make a new product.

  • Re:Sweet. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @05:06PM (#47751571)

    It'd be really nice for people who were born without the organs in question. First it'll probably be for people with a straight-forward birth defect, but eventually, this could possibly grow gonads for trans people, allowing their bodies to produce their own hormones. I'd be pretty excited if I could eventually stop taking synthetic estrogens.

  • Re:Prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @03:36AM (#47754613)

    That's not really clear in any sense.

    It comes down to the definition of "individual". The zygote is the first case where you are genetically complete at probably 99.99+% of the same genes you have as an adult. But are you your genes?

    Can a zygote truly be referred to as an individual? If so, why can't an egg? Is your definition of "individual" a clump of cells that share the same gene sequences? If so, then are twins two individuals? Why or why not?

    We have an intuitive notion of what these things mean and it works after a baby is born and it gets weirder the earlier you go.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller