In an extraordinary medical breakthrough, a team of scientists led by Dr. Anthony Atala are currently grafting bio-engineered penises, which may soon be transplanted safely on to patients. After 20 years of research, Dr. Atala hopes that the medical effort will cure men who have lost their penis through genital defects, traumatic injury, and surgery for aggressive penile cancer.
This procedure will be warmly welcomed by men suffering from penile dysfunctions. Currently, options to treat these penile dysfunctions are limited. Patients may decide to have a penis constructed with skin and muscle from the thigh or forearm, or a penis transplant from another individual. However, this carries a risk of immunological rejection.
Dr. Anthony Atala is a Peruvian-born urologist and professor of regenerative research. His research consists of a team of 300 scientists who hope to engineer penises made from the patient's own cells.
"The phallus is actually much longer than you think," Dr. Atala explains. "It goes all the way behind the pelvis, so no matter the extent of the damage, there is a high probability that there are salvageable cells."
In 2006, Dr. Atala and his team have so far only experimented the technique with rabbits to success. The team experimented on 12 rabbits with all 12 trying to mate, in eight there was proof of ejaculation and four went on to produce offspring.
According to report from The Guardian, the technique would involve taking a donor's penis and soaking it in a mild detergent of enzymes for a couple of weeks to wash away the donor cells. Then reseeding the structure with the patient's own cells taken in a biopsy from salvageable tissue and grown in culture. Smooth muscle cells, which relax during an erection to allow the vessels to dilate and the penis to fill with blood, are first, followed by endothelial cells which line the interior surface of blood and lymphatic vessels.
Dr. James Yoo, a collaborator with Dr Atala, explains why the bioengineering technique is so difficult.
"You're left with a mostly collagen scaffold – a skeleton if you like, that looks and feels just like the organ, think of it like a building. If you remove all the furniture and the people, you're still left with the main structure of the building. Then you replace the tenants with new ones. That's the whole idea. It's just that the building is a penis and the tenants are cells."Recently in another medical marvel, The Inquisitr reported that the world's first genetically modified babies were expected to finish high school in the spring of 2015.
Dr. Atala recently announced a successful method to prevent severe blood clots commonly seen after transplantation of the lab-grown organs. Atala believes that his work in developing the first bio-engineered penis will restore hope to a lot of unfortunate men.
[Image via Photo/Lynn Hey}]