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UK scientists make noses, ears and other body parts in lab, widespread use still years away

Tuesday - 4/8/2014, 10:20am  ET

LONDON (AP) -- Scientists in a north London hospital are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the lab in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells.

It's among several labs working on the futuristic idea around the world, including in the U.S. A handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs, such as tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes.

The scientist leading the effort at University College London likens it to making a cake. Alexander Seifalian (sehf-AY'-lee-uhn) says, "We just use a different kind of oven."

Last year, he and his team made a nose for a British man who lost his to cancer. Stem cells were taken from the patient's fat and grown in the lab for two weeks before being used to cover a nose-shaped scaffold. Later, the nose was implanted into the man's forearm so that skin would grow to cover it.

Seifalian and his team are now waiting for approval from authorities to transfer the nose onto the patient's face.

Stem cell experts say it's an important step toward making more complicated organs, like a kidney, lungs or a liver.

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APPHOTO LMD152: Dr Michelle Griffin, a plastic research fellow, demonstrates for photographs seeding stem cells onto a synthetic polymer ear at her research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London, Monday, March 31, 2014. In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far-- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes -- researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (31 Mar 2014)

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APPHOTO LMD151: Dr Michelle Griffin, a plastic research fellow, poses for photographs with a synthetic polymer ear at her research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London, Monday, March 31, 2014. In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far-- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes -- researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells. "It's like making a cake," said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. "We just use a different kind of oven." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (31 Mar 2014)

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APPHOTO LMD150: Professor Alexander Seifalian poses for photographs with a synthetic polymer nose at his research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London, Monday, March 31, 2014. In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far-- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes -- researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells. "It's like making a cake," said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. "We just use a different kind of oven." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (31 Mar 2014)

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APPHOTO LMD154: Professor Alexander Seifalian speaks next to an automated dip coating machine with a synthetic mould of a windpipe inside at his research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London, Monday, March 31, 2014. In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far-- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes -- researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells. "It's like making a cake," said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. "We just use a different kind of oven." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (31 Mar 2014)

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