Have you ever said to yourself “You know, curing AIDS and cancer and creating a bottomless resource of donor organs to extend human life is important and all, but I wonder when science will give me the ability to attach a second penis?”
If so, good news! If not, weird news! Although to be fair, the work of Dr. Anthony Atala has nothing to do with sexual perversion, as far as we’re aware, but instead has to do with a desire to help injured veterans, accident victims and transgendered men back to full sexual health and urinating without a catheter.
Although we do wonder how he explains his work at parties.
Atala’s work to this point has largely been with growing replacement ears on scaffolds made out of the patient’s cells, something you’ve probably heard about since it’s actually pretty awesome. But Atala has actually been working on far more complex replacements for years. As a pediatric urologist, he cultured and grew bladder cells to replaced damaged ones, and has even grown and transplanted penises onto rabbits. In fact the rabbit penises were the first grown solid organ, and caught the military’s attention because:
These injuries are among the least talked-about but among the most horrible affecting war veterans. The improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, planted by insurgents across Iraq and Afghanistan blow off feet, legs and arms, and they can especially damage the pelvic areas that are difficult to protect with body armor. [MSNBC]
The penis is much trickier simply because its more complex. It’s not quite as complex as an internal organ, which is the holy grail of regenerative medicine, but it’s a complicated network of muscles and nerves that has to be grown and grafted precisely to be more than a waste disposal hose.
Atala’s work is still in testing stages and there’s a lot to do, but soon, you, too, can reenact a King Missile song.