A surgeon has revealed he is creating a bionic vagina made from the intestine of a pig. The artificial organ was developed with the animal's tissue alongside a patient's own stem cells.
The groundbreaking project is being led by Alexander Seifalian, who constructed the first synthetic trachea to be transplanted into a patient.
The move could transform lives of women with disorders such a vaginal artesia, where the vagina is abnormally closed or absent or Mayer–Rokitansky–Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, in which the vagina does not fully develop.
The treatment could also be applied to patients with vaginal cancer or injuries.
Professor Seifalian is carrying out the work at London-based NanoRegMed, which is one of several labs around the world working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab.
The expert in nanotechnology and regenerative revealed he has produced a scaffold in the shape of a vagina, Daily Star Online has reported.
Seifalian extracted muscle and cells from a patient and joined them with the pig intestine, by feeding them nutrients that allowed the cells to grow and merge together.
The next step in the process will be to transplant the vagina scaffold into a human
However, the surgeon admits that the scheme is at an 'experimental' stage – and he said it could take up to five years to be used in patients.
His work follows on from that of Dr Anthony Atala in the US whose team successfully grew vaginas in a laboratory and implanted them into four teenage patients between 2005 and 2008 who did not have their own developed vaginas. The artificial organs were created using their own tissue cells.