X-Message-Number: 13062
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2000 09:11:48 +1000
Subject: Grow you own body parts

This looks intresting...

Progress in Growing Organs
Frog Eyes, Ears from Embryo; Human Parts Next?

 By Eric Prideaux
The Associated Press
T O R O N T O,   Jan. 4 ? Japanese researchers have grown frog eyes and ears in
a lab using the animal?s own embryo cells, technology a scientist said could

eventually help doctors replace lost or damaged human sensory organs using cells
from the patients? bodies.
     Makoto Asashima, a biologist at prestigious Tokyo University, said Monday
that the process is an alternative to donor transplants.
     The team cultivated thousands of embryo cells in a retinoic acid solution
for five days to produce the organs, he said.
Depends on Acid Amount
Varying the concentration of the retinoic acid somehow brings forth different
genetic instructions in the cells, Asashima said. A lower concentration
activates a set of genes producing eyes, while a higher concentration activates
genes producing ears.

     The researchers used embryonic stem cells, the ancestral cells that develop
     into the tissues and organs in the body.
     The procedure is different from cloning, in which a single cell from an
organism grows into a copy of the original, he said.
     Asashima said his team is the first to produce the eyes or ears of an
animal in a test tube.

Kidney Already Transplanted
In a similar, simpler procedure, the researcher said he previously grew frog
kidneys and transplanted them into other frogs.
     The recipient animals lived for more than a month, he said. The team did
not test the survival rate of frogs with transplanted natural kidneys, he said.
     Hideyuki Okano, a professor of neural development at Osaka University?s
Graduate School of Medicine, said Asashima?s work was ?extremely striking.?
     Okano, who has been following the research, said it could eventually help
scientists reduce reliance on donors for rare organs.
     Scientists are already able to grow human skin from patients? own cells,
and such transplants are carried out in the United States, Europe and Japan,
Asashima said.

     Asashima said he plans to submit his findings, which were first reported in
     Monday?s Mainichi newspaper, to one of two Japanese scientific journals,
Zoological Science or Developmental Growth and Differentiation.

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