There’s something a little creepy-sounding about the phrase “lab-grown organs,” but producing human organs in the lab could have a range of such powerful benefits that, if they became widely available, only the rare patient would get hung up on the creep factor.
A liver, for example, made from human cells could be used as an intermediate step in drug testing in order to help ensure that a drug was safe before testing it on people. And, yes, a bladder or pancreas or even a heart developed from a patient’s own cells could be transplanted, cutting the wait time for a donor organ and all but eliminating the risk that the patient would reject the organ.
So while average Joes may wrinkle their noses at lab-grown organs, scientists tend to talk them up. But major unresolved challenges can be lost among reports of exciting breakthroughs in the field known as regenerative medicine.