Science Comes One Step Closer To Offering Custom- Grown Penises

By: Daniel Villarreal
9.26.2012

Whether you like your penis or not, at least you have one (right?).

Some American men have lost their genitals during war or car accidents and have had to live without the joys of external genitalia. But Dr. Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University is trying to change all that. You see, he's become quite good at growing fully functional rabbit penises in his lab using cutting edge-biotechnology funded by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM).

AFIRM funds about 50 other labs around the U.S. with the hopes that their regenerative technology might help restore soldiers who lose their limbs and other sensory and motor abilities on the battlefield. After Atala attached the aforementioned penises to the genital-less bunnies, the bunnies went on to hump female rabbits and have an entire litter of baby bunnies.

Atala's lab has been all sorts of exciting things in the field of regenerative medicine, including developing a spray-on skin for burn victims, a surgery to restore sight to the blind and a method for growing lost limbs.

Genital injuries are common for soldiers who step on bombs—especially the improvised explosive devices used throughout Iraq and Afghanistan—partly because full-body armor requires less-guarded crotches for mobility.

Naturally, regaining a penis would help the psyche and self-image of damaged soldiers, but science-fiction writer Robert T. Gonzales of io9 wonders whether the lab-grown penises might also help provide fully-functioning penises to trans men or guys looking to sport a bigger johnson than the ones they were born with.

Organs, such as genitals, and limbs have been a real challenge to regrow in a laboratory because each is made of many different types of skin, connective tissue, muscle, nerve and bone cells. But using stem cell technology and bioprinting, an automated method of regrowing replacement body parts in the lab, Dr. Atala hopes to begin producing limbs on a large scale.

“Right now, the way these organs are made is creating them one by one. By bringing the bioprinting in, we can scale it up," Atala said.

So while it's too early to put in your order for a new and improved penis made with your own stem cells, it's entirely possible that we could see the lab-grown genitals become a reality well within our lifetimes.

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