Harald Ott spent weeks in a lab tending to a tiny rat’s forelimb. He got a special incubator for it, monitored it daily, cared for its every need.
The reason a rat leg was worth all that work? There was no rat attached to it.
Ott, a researcher and thoracic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the proud parent of the world’s first lab-grown biolimb — a living, functioning, artificial leg that responds to stimuli and even circulates blood, the hospital announced Tuesday. Though it’s still a long way off from made-to-order transplants for humans, Ott and other regeneration experts say that the tiny pink rat leg is a step toward the future of artificial limbs.
“This is science fiction coming to life,” Daniel Weiss, a lung regeneration specialist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, told the New Scientist.