Need a body part? Soon, thanks to research by Alexander Seifalian at University of College London, you can just order one up. "It's like making a cake," Seifalian said in this post over at AP's The Big Story, "we just use a different kind of oven."
Last year, Seifalian and his team molded a nose for a man who lost his due to cancer. They started with a polymer mold, then added a salt and sugar solution to mimic the sponge-like texture of a natural nose and cover it with a solution of stem cells previously harvested from the patient. Later, the nose was implated onto the man's forearm so skin would grow to cover it. Seifalian is now awaiting regulatory approval to implant the new nose onto the man's face.
Ears, according to plastic surgeon Michelle Griffin, is much harder to make "... because you have to get all the contours right and the skin is pulled tight so you see its entire structure. At the moment, children who need new ears have to go through a really invasive procedure involving taking cartilage from their ribs."
More complex organs like kidney, lungs and liver are much further down the road. Read more about lab-made organs at The Big Story.