A major medical breakthrough could be pending as researchers at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine say laboratory-grown penises might soon be available for those who suffer accidents or birth defects.
If the concept sounds absurd, the research team, led by Dr. Anthony Atala, has already successfully performed this operation on rabbits that have gone on to mate and produce offspring.
Additionally, Wake Forest researchers have already transplanted laboratory-grown vaginas on teenage girls born with a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome that prevents the vagina from developing normally, hindering sexual function and childbirth.
The question of regenerating and replacing a penis is more complicated due to the density of the organ and the complex erectile tissue that gives it sexual function, according to The Guardian, which spoke with the researchers.
Atala's method uses a donor penis and removes the donor's cells by soaking it in detergent, Atala told the newspaper. Next, the regenerated smooth muscle and endothelial cells are added.
Like the female clitoris, the human penis is longer than it appears, extending behind the pelvic bones, and in the case of accidents, sufficient salvageable tissue usually remains to regenerate it.
French surgeon Dr. Pierre Foldès developed a method of repairing clitoral damage that takes advantage of the hidden length of the clitoris. Scar tissue is removed and the remaining hidden portion of the clitoris is pulled forward into the natural position to restore sexual gratification.
The Italian-American team at Foregen, meanwhile, is aiming to regenerate part of the male penis -- the foreskin -- to replace it for those who are unhappy after having undergone circumcision surgery.
More information about the Wake Forest research can be found here.
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