by Rod D. Martin
June 10, 2015
My friend Dr. Harald Ott, the exceedingly young head of Harvard’s Ott Laboratory for Organ Engineering and Regeneration, made waves when he began growing human organs in his lab. On June 3rd he was featured in an article at Daily Mail Online for something perhaps even more extraordinary still.
Harald just brought back to life a dead, detached limb.
The limb was detached from a dead rat, injected with blood vessels and muscle cells, and then reattached. Not only was the limb resurrected: the rat was even able to flex its new paw.
Researcher Dr Harald Ott of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery said: ‘We are focusing on the forearm and hand.
‘But the techniques would equally apply to arms, legs and other extremities.’
Hands, arms and even legs, can be transplanted, but the operations are complex and patients have to take powerful immunosuppressant drugs – which weaken the immune system to prevent the rejection of a transplant – for life.
In contrast, a lab-grown arm or leg should look and move more naturally.
It gets better. Because it is made out of a person’s own cells, no immunosuppression is needed.
Dr. Ott has now created dozens of such limbs and has already started work on baboon arms.
However, he warns that much work remains to be done and it will be at least a decade before the first human biolimbs are ready to be tested.
Harald’s research is changing the world. Take note.
Oh, and by the way: Harald is one of the founders of The 150 Year Foundation, our effort to extend human life expectancy to 150 within the next two generations. Check us out.