We've been able to grow organs in labs for some time now. But what if you could grow them directly inside a living body just by injecting a few cells? It looks like now we can, at least in a limited way.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have grown thymus glands directly inside lab mice by "reprogramming" the genes in tissue-generating cells and partnering those with support cells. Once inside the mice, this bunch of cells developed into a fully functional thymus that was fully capable of producing virus-fighting T-cells just like a real thymus. The findings were published in Nature.
This doesn't mean that we can instantly start growing hearts, lungs and kidneys inside humans, however (bummer!). Lab mice have much simpler anatomical structures, for one, and the thymus is one of the simplest organs in any animal, says the BBC. Besides, scientists will still have make sure that organs grown in this manner don't start growing uncontrollably and develop cancerous tumours. But, hey, it's a start. [BBC via Engadget]