Harald Ott of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has revealed the worlds very first biolimb that has been grown completely inside a petri dish and takes the form of a rats forearm. The new biolimb offers hope that one day amputees may be able to themselves receive a fully functional biological replacement in the future. The technique used to create the biolimb is called “decel/recel”, and has been previously used in the lab to create other organs such as hearts, lungs and kidneys. The New Siencetist explains how the process works:
“In the first, decel step – short for decellularisation – organs from dead donors are treated with detergents that strip off the soft tissue, leaving just the “scaffold” of the organ, built mainly from the inert protein collagen. This retains all the intricate architecture of the original organ. In the case of the rat forearm, this included the collagen structures that make up blood vessels, tendons, muscles and bones.
In the second recel step the flesh of the organ is recellularised by seeding the scaffold with the relevant cells from the recipient. The scaffold is then nourished in a bioreactor, enabling new tissue to grow and colonise the scaffold.”