Growing Fingers and Limbs in the Lab
The human finger is a remarkable system that performs numerous functions, including structural support and movement. It is composed of many tissues, including bone, cartilage, tendon, muscle, fat, nerve and blood vessels. The replacement of amputated digits with prosthetics is often unsatisfactory.
Engineering new digits is a complicated process, but, theoretically, it is possible using conventional techniques. We have successfully engineered muscle, bone and blood vessels in the laboratory and have combined them to replace a small segment of a digit in an experimental model.
Our goal in this research is to one day combine these components together – or learn to engineer them as a unit – to replace fingers and limbs in humans.