Boston scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital have come up with an amazing new procedure which allows them to regrow limbs completely separately from the animal and then attach them. So far, they’ve only managed it with a rat, but the current thinking is that there’s no reason why full limb creation and transplants wouldn’t be entirely possible on humans within a few years.
The work is known as ‘decel/recel’ and it’s already being used to create brand new internal organs for people like kidneys, hearts and lungs. And arms and legs could be next.
The research culminated in the team behind the work growing a ‘biolimb’ for a test rat. It took just three weeks to create the limb from scratch and appeared to be entirely usable. Although it is yet to be actually grafted onto a live rat, the general consensus at the moment is that it’s fully possible. Grafts and transplants are notorious for ‘not taking’ and the host body rejecting the ‘fake’ body part, but all the signs so far look good.
Harald Ott, the scientist who led the team behind the world’s very first ‘biolimb’, told the The Washington Post this: “Even with prosthetics, many patients who have forearm loss do not regain full independence in terms of taking care of themselves, because the dexterity of these devices is not quite there yet.”
Another great thing about the work? It’s thought that if work continues in the area, pretty soon those of us that die and decide to leave our bodies for medical donations, can contribute limbs as well as organs!
Science continues to rattle along at a rare old pace. And when innovations can be as life changing as this, you’e got to applaud the work. So well done, Boston!