Can organs be built in a lab? This research isn’t something that might happen in the distant future. It’s being used today to grow fresh organs, open up new ways to study disease and the immune system, and reduce the need for organ transplants. Organ-farming laboratories are popping up across the planet, and showing impressive results. Here we look at the state of the union of a rapidly advancing field called tissue engineering: what’s been accomplished so far, and what’s right around the corner.
Patients who undergo organ transplants require loads of toxic drugs to suppress their immune systems; otherwise their body might reject the organ. But tissue engineering could make organ transplants a thing of the past. By using a patient’s cells to grow new types of tissue in the lab, researchers are finding new ways to custom-engineer you new body parts by using your own cells.
Correspondent Tamara Krinsky visits with Dr. Anthony Atala and learns about building organs in his lab. Wired Science heads to two underground labs in search of neutrinos. Adam Rogers combs Kansas wheat fields for rocks from outer space. Wired Science investigates bringing cloned animal meat and milk to the public.