Writing in today’s Financial Times, science editor Clive Cookson takes a look at the reality behind last week’s announcement that human bladders had been suceesfully grown and transplanted into patients. It reminded us of the similar hype emanating from organisations such as Foresight five years ago, where it was predicted that nanotechnologies would have such a profound effect on tissue engineering that severed limbs would be routinely regrown.
The immediate assumption that the growth of part of a bladder would automatically lead to the routine growth of all kinds of spare organs is rather flawed as Cookson points out. While nanotechnologies may provide new forms of scaffolding for tissue growth, or indeed increase our understanding of the mechanisms of tissue generation, “our children may possibly benefit. Our grandchildren probably will.”