We already knew that lab-grown meat is coming, but we didn't realize that lab-grown meat is actually, uh, y'know.
Over the weekend, The Guardian reported on breakthrough research at North Carolina's Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Scientists there have used cells to grow "half a dozen human penises," with the ultimate goal of attaching such bioengineered phalli to men who've suffered "genital defects, traumatic injury, surgery for aggressive penile cancer, or even jilted lovers exacting revenge."
It's a project that has already led to successfully attached lab-grown human bladders in 1999 and human vaginas in 2005, as well as fully functional penises for a dozen rabbits, some of which even became bunny-daddies afterward. However, the scientists warn, this technology is many years away from hitting the commercial market for dudes.
“Even though we can make them in a very small mammal, we have to tweak the technology, the processes, the ratio of cells and so on, to get larger and larger structures," lead researcher Dr. Anthony Atala told the Guardian, adding, "But we’re trying to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so we know everything is perfect before we move to a first in-man test."
Atala hopes to start by merely fixing damaged cells that cause erectile dysfunction in otherwise intact men. But eventually, he wants to make current methods of full reconstruction obsolete, since they date back to the 1970s and often include rods and pumps. As for donated organs, there's a huge risk of DNA rejection after the transplant, whereas the new technology basically clones a guy's own manhood.
It's a potentially life-changing idea for many men, though Dr. Atala might want to check and make sure the creators of "South Park" didn't already apply for the patent...