Using stem cells, scientists were able to grow completely new prostate glands in mice. The prostate is a gland that aids in creating and expelling semen, and is often the cause of cancer in older men (pictured is a prostate cancer cell). But now that San Francisco researchers can grow prostates in mice, will doctors be regrowing human prostates any time soon? It's unlikely, because we don't need prostates to survive (even if a lot of men enjoy having them), and growing new ones might actually increase the risk of cancer. Plus, growing a new prostate doesn't help if you aren't able to attach it to other organs and nerves in the body — a process that is currently impossible. Instead, this research in manipulating mouse prostates might shed light on how prostate cancer works, and even lead to a cure. Medical researcher Robin Lovell-Badge told BBC News:
Of course the main clinical problem with the prostate gland is not a need for additional ones, but their overgrowth, which often turns to prostate cancer. However, knowing the identity of these stem cells may eventually allow the development of therapies that specifically target these cells in a way that keeps them under control.
Added biologist Malcolm Alison:
It is a widely held view that cancers originate from normal stem cells, so this discovery will be a significant boost to prostate cancer research aimed at understanding how this deadly disease develops.
So you're saying I'm not going to be growing a prostate gland just for fun any time soon? Oh well — I guess curing prostate cancer is cool too. New Prostate Grown Inside Mouse [via BBC News]