Scientists have created human lungs in a lab, and Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch, couldn't be happier.
"It's been science fiction and we're moving into science fact," she told CNN.
Scientists don't expect to try the new technology in humans within the decade, but they do plan on experimenting on pigs, Miss Nichols said.
CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, who called it the dawn of "a new era of engineered body parts," said other body parts are even further along than the lung, such as the human trachea.
"It's so darn cool," Miss Nichols said of the process, in which researchers in Galveston, Texas, used donated lung tissue from car accident victims to make the breakthrough happen.
Scientists used a scaffolding of collagen and elastin from one set of lungs and cells from another, then soaked them in a special nutrient-rich fluid, resulting four weeks later in an engineered human lung, CNN reported.
Ms. Nichols told CNN she thinks human testing for lungs may happen in roughly 12 years.
"My students will be doing the work when I'm old and retired and can't hold a pipette anymore," she said.
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