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Apr 11 2014

Lab grown vaginas

You might think I’m writing a check with that headline these blogg’n finger can’t cash. If so, you would be wrong! There really is such a report out and vaginas are not the only things being grown in vitro, or outside of the body, whatever the terminology might be.

Philly.com — Doctors have successfully implanted laboratory-grown vaginas into four teenage girls suffering from a rare birth defect, creating new organs with feel and function comparable to that of a “natural” vagina, a new study reports.

Another research team is reporting the first successful nose reconstruction surgery using laboratory-grown cartilage. In both cases, doctors harvested the patients’ own cells and used them to create new tissue that was then grafted back onto the body.

I have no idea how the usual suspects will react to this one. It doesn’t involve embryonic stem cells or cloning, the technique could benefit everyone sooner or later in some way regardless of what part one needs fixed, so there’s no religious right standard boiler-plate for it — as far as I know. But the articles trending on the web do involve scary lady parts and women’s’ health, so odds are some old white self-righteous assholes somewhere will have to figure out a way to object.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    besomyka

    Umm… if that’s not adapted to helping trans women as fast as humanly possible, I just don’t know. Things like this give lie to my rationalizations every damn time.

  2. 2
    Jenna Stewart

    Whoa.
    This seems all sorts of amazing.

    And think of all the cool applications for trans people! I now want a lab-grown vagina (partially to say I’ve got lab-grown genitals, partially because fixing dysphoria)!

  3. 3
    busterggi

    I can see how these could function like ‘natural’ but how do the researchers know they feel ‘natural’ to the receiver? No snark, I’d just like to know how this was determined and how the neural hookup is done.

  4. 4
    John Horstman

    Well, the most direct route of objection would be invoking the naturalistic fallacy or its religious version of “interfering with a god’s plan”. It sounds like this could be used to grow genital structures for people who wish to transition biological gender presentation, so we can probably expect some transphobic outcries as well.

  5. 5
    Maureen Brian

    Question 1 Is it safe?

    Question 2 How does it feel to the owner?

    and then way down the list

    Question 103 Is this as good an experience for my partner as any other vagina he might meet? (Given that vaginas vary considerably in any case!)

  6. 6
    Kevin Kehres

    If it can reverse some of the adverse effects of female genital mutilation — you’ll have the answer to your question in short order.

  7. 7
    Cuttlefish

    Back in 2008, I wrote about a trachea that had been grown on the scaffold of a donor trachea, stripped of all cellular matter, and bathed in the recipient’s own stem cells ( http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2008/11/19/throat-in-a-jar/ ). It was successful, and guaranteed not to be rejected.

    From the news report (haven’t yet read the Lancet article, but I plan to) it looks like a very similar process, except that the scaffolding is artificial, biodegradable, and hand-sewn. The last bit fascinates me–I have designed and sewn both clothing and animals (nothing complicated), and while in hindsight it seems a no-brainer that this sort of construction would make a perfect substrate (I expect 3-D printing will eventually take over, but the variety of material available makes sewing just so perfect at present), the notion that something so basic as sewing could have such an incredible impact on people’s physical lives. Maybe it’s silly, but it really makes me glad I am living in an era where such things are possible–that something older than written history is also cutting-edge medical technology.

  8. 8
    Cuttlefish

    Oops.. a sentence really got away from me there. Feel free to assume I fixed the grammar in a way that makes sense and is beautifully eloquent. Cos I didn’t.

  9. 9
    robert79

    It wouldn’t surprise me if someone objects because they think this technology will be used to make new sex toys.

    It also wouldn’t surprise me if someone adapts this technology to make new sex toys.

  10. 10
    Marcus Ranum

    the technique could benefit everyone sooner or later

    Prepare yourself for immortal Dick Cheney.

  11. 11
    Flewellyn

    “Engineered Vagina” is the name of my electropunk L7 tribute band.

  12. 12
    abusedbypenguins

    Is the hymen an option?

  13. 13
    andrewscott

    This reminds me of this Sheng Wang quote (turns out misattributed to Betty White):

    “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”

  14. 14
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ andrewscott : LOL. Yup.

    @10. Marcus Ranum : “Prepare yourself for immortal Dick Cheney.” Isn’t it already kinda suspicious that guy is still alive? I mean.. how, really?

    @ 9.robert79 : Yep. Wouldn’t surprise me either.

    ***

    Amazing bit of medical and scientific work this in so many ways. Congrats & a raised beer salute to those involved.

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