Need a new coat of skin? It's closer than you think.
A new German "skin factory" has opened up and they can actually mass produce sheets of human flesh. While the tech is there, the legal hurdles are large and will keep the tissue from reaching human recievers any time soon...but the tech is ready.
At the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, machines slosh pink solutions around, and drizzle liquids through hair-thin pipettes. The machines monitor temperature, carbon dioxide, and humidity levels. After some time you have pieces of tissue sitting in nutrient solution: transplantable flesh.
According to Gizmodo this skin factory was just a concept back in 2009, but a group of researchers have built a factory in a very short time, with the aim of creating a world where there is never a shortage of flesh transplants.
This "skin factory" is capable of turning out 5,000 discs about the size of a penny every single month. The price for a penny sized chunk of skin? €50, or $72. That may sound expensive, but it sure beats the alternative...
The visionaries who built this factory hope that it wil someday serve as a backbone facility that provides more than just muscle cultures; much more, like bladders, tracheas, entire organs, and possibly even entire limbs.
Unfortunately, there are some large hurdles to overcome. The EU has decided that tissues grown outside of the human body must be treated as pharmacological substances. This means that they must first do a lot of animal testing, and then get aproved by the European Medicines Agency before the lab-grown flesh ever makes it on to a person. Check out Der Spiegel for the full scoop.
It's an amazing time that we live in, with new innovations being realized every single day in everything from quantum teleportation to other discoveries similar to this one. Let's just hope that the EU doesn't take their time with this one -- people need it.