If there's one thing a rabbit needs, it's well-functioning genitalia. Scientists have successfully regrown rabbits' damaged penises, letting these rabbits do what rabbits do best. And their research could have important implications for generating human tissues as well.
In the new issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine will detail their findings in penile tissue regeneration. Using twelve New Zealand White rabbits with damaged penises, the team engineered replacement tissues using each rabbit's own erectile tissues. They then injected these replacement cells into scaffold made from rabbit penises that had been stripped of their cells; the scaffold act as support for the developing cells. The scaffolds were then implanted in the rabbits, after which the organized tissues began to form.
Once the penises were fully formed, the rabbits were just as sexually active as rabbits with non-reconstructed genitals, mating with female rabbits within a moment of introduction. The team also found that the rabbits' sexual performance was fully functional, and several female rabbits became pregnant and produced healthy offspring as a result of the encounter.
Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest University Baptist, believes that the same technique can be applied to human males who have erectile cells, but have damaged or deformed penises — as well as men looking to upgrade their current equipment. The procedure probably wouldn't require scaffolding from another penis, however. Researchers are currently looking into printable structures made from collagen and other materials.
Artificial Penis Tissue Proves Promising in Lab Tests [LiveScience]