View Full Version : The Organ Farmer

Dr Mordrid
21st November 2006, 23:29

Anthony Atala makes bladders. Not the plastic-model kind but actual living, human organs. Step into his office at Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM), where the 48-year-old tissue engineer is director, and you’ll find a suite of climate-controlled chambers the size of hotel mini fridges. Inside, spheres of human bladder cells resembling deflated pink balloons divide and grow. Culled from patients with incontinence problems, these cells will assemble themselves over time, forming into brand-new replacement bladders for the cell donors.
The IRM is now collaborating with local biotech company Tengion, which is bankrolling large-scale clinical trials of Atala’s bladders and hopes to manufacture them eventually. Meanwhile, Atala is busy replicating more than 20 kinds of tissues and organs, including hearts and livers. But because the vast snarls of blood vessels inside these organs are exceedingly difficult to grow in the lab, he thinks it might be decades before his work yields commercially viable treatments. “Rushing may be OK when you’re trying to get a widget or a videogame on the market,” he says, “but not when you’re dealing with patients’ lives.”

22nd November 2006, 07:33
I wonder if in the future when grown transplant organs are commodities will people do more crappy stuff (smoke, bad food, etc) to their bodies?

22nd November 2006, 07:41
If (or rather, when) it becomes possible to cure or prevent cancer or liver disease with nothing more than a series of shots, you can bet the primary deterrent to such health-compromising activities as smoking and boozing will disappear.

Kids will once again be able to "look cool" with a butt dangling from their lip and a bottle in their hand, confident that medical science will restore their health and vigor after they've messed themselves up (assuming they have the cash, of course).


Dr Mordrid
22nd November 2006, 10:56
If such a tech is not only perfected but automated in terms of production such injectable repairs may cost no more than a series of flu shots.

22nd November 2006, 15:12
Well, I doubt brain damage from alcohol will be fixable soon. And Cigarettes stink (says a smoker. BTW, I'll quit at new year's. Again :))

22nd November 2006, 15:47
And Cigarettes stink (says a smoker. BTW, I'll quit at new year's. Again :))

Dr Mordrid
22nd November 2006, 17:12
Never started :)

22nd November 2006, 17:23
Never started :)