clhs sciblog

Musings on current happenings in science from our little slice of the world.

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The Vacanti Mouse: Gross and Incredible

February 25th, 2009 by elginkm · 4 Comments · Biology

Have you ever thought of what happens to people who lose body parts or organs that can’t be grown back? The people who have lost ears, or fingers, or even more vital parts of their bodies? If you haven’t, you probably did just now. As you all know, you cant grow back another ear if it is damaged or destroyed. The cartilage in your ear is very hard to replace and repair. A breakthrough in 1997, by Dr. Charles Vacanti, may have changed all of this.

The Vacanti mouse was a mouse that was genetically altered to have a abnormally strong immune system, and it was bred to be hairless. These two factors made it easier to attempt to grow organs on the back of the mouse to be used as donor organs. The biggest breakthrough of this experiment was when the mouse was able to sustain having an ear grown on its back. Of course this ear did not contain human cells and it mostly consisted of wire mesh under a layer of skin, but it was still a breakthrough. It proved that the mouse could fully support the new body part put onto its back. The new ear would not be able to function like a normal ear would, being that it cannot be used to hear, but it can be used for cosmetic purposes for burn victims or those who suffer in terrible accidents.

Researchers grew an ear-shaped piece of cartilage on this mouse.

Although only an ear has been successfully grown on the mouse, more experimenting could possibly lead to many more breakthroughs. It could lead to new sources for organ donors if they can get the mouse to fully grow a vital organ on its back. Read more about this amazing, yet kinda gross story at these three websites: 1, 2,


4 Comments so far ↓

  • wilsonja

    This is just crazy. I have never heard of this before. This could be one of the weirdest things anyone has ever heard. This is really helpful for people who have lost certain parts of their bodies. Although the new parts wouldn’t function properly, it would still help people not feel like outcasts, which is always nice.

  • yangjk

    It is amazing that how could Dr.Charles Vacanti found the way to make it grow on the back of thw mouse.
    It is kind of gross but it is amazing discovery that mouse can have human ear? But it would be better if we can use those ear on the back of the mouse.
    It could be a great cosmetic,

  • dangln

    It’s amazing what doctors can do to discover such extreme things when it comes to things like this. How would they put the “mouse ear” on a human being? I agree with yangjk. It would be extremely weird and gross to have an ear from a mouse. Why was it easier to grow organs on the mouse if it was hairless? That’s the question of the day! BYE!

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