THE world's first organ grown using live tissue in a laboratory has been successfully implanted in humans, it was announced today.
Seven young patients have been given new bladders in a medical breakthrough which could herald the regeneration of hearts and other organs in the future.
Until now only simpler tissues such as skin, bone and cartilage have been grown in laboratories.
The breakthrough is the first time that a more intricate organ has been mostly replaced with tissue grown from a patient's own cells.
The bladder transplants, performed on seven patients aged from four to 19, were reported online in The Lancet medical journal.
The research team at Children's Hospital in Boston, in the US, carried out the first procedure in 1999 but wanted to make sure it would work on others.
The results were not announced while the doctors carried out the other surgery and followed the progress of the last patient for almost two more years.
"This suggests that tissue engineering may one day be a solution to the shortage of donor organs," said Prof Anthony Atala, lead researcher.
About 6,700 people are waiting for donor organs in Britain but the number of organs available has fallen as a result of improved road safety.