Penis Transplants may soon be a Reality

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October 20th, 2014

A penis grown in a lab may sound like something out of a weird movie, created by some deranged mad scientist, but in fact it may be reality soon. Two trials to cultivate the male member in a lab are in the works, the price tag taken care of by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The studies are being conducted by Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Their spokesperson Karen Richardson told the Huffington Post via email, “The goal is to conduct a clinical trial within the next four to five years.” In 2009 the institute created a “functional engineered solid organ.” This was penile erectile tissue for rabbits. But now they are ready to construct a human penis. The results, if successful, could help men who have lost their member to an injury, cancer, who have intractable erectile dysfunction, or even congenital defects. Lead researcher and director of the institute Dr. Anthony Atala said that a donated organ is pivotal to this research. It must then be broken down to its basic structure.

Researchers use it like scaffolding. Cells are grown on top of the structure. Once the organ is fully grown, it can be attached to the man who requires it.  Dr. James Yoo is also working on this project. He told The Guardian, “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.” Researchers note that this won’t work for transgender men who generally select confirmation surgery as “this method requires the use of the patient’s own penile cells.” Though it could feel like something out of a science fiction movie, in another series of experiments, scientists have attached four lab-created vaginas to women. One wonders whether in the far off future, if these penile researchers are successful, if men will be able to have larger organs surgically attached to replace their original equipment, and what impact this may have on society.

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