As science continues to evolve, the shock factor is supposed to decrease. But with each new invention, we become more surprised because they seem to break the bar all the time.
Some Scientists in the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University in Japan have created an adult human ear on the back of a mouse using iPS cells. The iPS which means induced pluripotent stem cells are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state, being forced to express genes and factors important for maintaining the defining properties of embryonic cells.
In simple English; embryonic cells are cells obtained from inner mass cells of the human embryo (fetus). These cells are pluripotent, that is, they have the ability to grow into all the derivatives of germ layers (layers that form your organs). However, adult stem cells are limited, in that they cannot differentiate into just any cells but the tissue from which they were taken from. So these adult stem cells are therefore reprogrammed to act like embryonic cells.
(Note: Organs are made up of tissues and tissues are made up of cells.)
The scientists made these cells differentiate into the cells that form the human ear cartilage. They were then implanted in a tube that had the shape of a human ear and in turn planted beneath the skin of the mouse and left to grow. In two months, the scientists discovered that a human ear had indeed been formed on the back of the mouse.
The researchers hope to use this invention to help babies with ear defects such as Anotia and Microtia — babies born without an outer ear or a small ear respectively. The current way to solve these defects include using cartilage that is gotten from the patient’s rib. This usually involves lots of repetitive surgeries that often leave the patient with a chest deformity.
This new invention which the scientists believe will begin tests on humans in 5 years will be a breath of fresh air to the treatment of ear deformities.
We wonder what invention will come up next.