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Lab Tested, Vatican Approved


Tissue engineering does not require the controversial use of embryonic stem cells, the as-yet undecided young cells used in some research

The concept of custom grown organs might seem somewhat Frankensteinian, at first. This startling picture of a mouse with a human ear growing on it's back announced the new field of tissue engineering to the public. In fact, tissue engineering may be one the most natural and straightforward new technologies around today. For one thing, tissue engineering does not require the controversial use of embryonic stem cells, the as-yet undecided young cells used in some research. Researchers like Naughton largely use cells from cadavers.

Photo of Vacanti
Dr. Joseph Vacanti, a transplant surgeon at Mass. General Hospital, is one of the fathers of tissue engineering.  

"We've always thought you shouldn't get into ethically cloudy issues," says Joseph Vacanti. "We never thought you should use fetal tissues. Could we? Yes. Are we? No."

The young science of tissue engineering even garnered Papal approval, something it took Gallileo some 400 years to do.

"Our strategy ended up being; we built a team, did good work and reported it in journals, and people were able to reproduce it," says Vacanti. "People now see the vision," says Vacanti.


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