You don't have all that may options at the moment should you lose your member to an accident or illness. Currently, those who have their penis damaged or removed entirely have to make do with a forearm or thigh graft, repurposed around a supporting prosthetic. But researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina believe they'll have a working alternative ready for testing within the next five years -- lab-grown penises.
The team has already worked extensively on animal penile tissue, using smooth muscle samples and endothelial cells built around a scaffold. When matured, these lab-grown organs can be transpalanted back into a patient. Testing with rabbits has proved successful, with test subjects quite literally going at it like rabbits, and producing healthy offspring.
While regulators will have to be convinced before testing on humans can proceed, it's not yet clear how capable a human penis replacement will be. A perfect balance of structural growth and cell choice conducive to natural blood vessel pressure will be vital, whilst some scientists believe that a neurophysiological disconnect between the replacement organ and the brain could also lead to erectile issues. [Mirror]