Modular Bodies – The Emergence of ‘Plug-and-Play’ Organs & Limbs

Over the years we have seen some creepy experiments in the media as human bio-engineering has progressed, a human ear growing on the back of a mouse being just one that comes readily to my mind.

Human ear on mouse

A replacement human ear being grown on the back of a mouse (Source: Wikipedia).

That was 20 years ago. Today we have moved on towards a brave new world in which replacement organs can come from animals (pig heart valves), or even be grown in laboratories using stem cells. Last year and article in Scientific American magazine reported that it was now possible to grow spare parts for the human brain using stem cells, this was not  a brain-like structure, the grown neurones were sending communications to each other, just as in a normal human brain. We really are standing on the cusp of a profound revolution in human bio-engineering…for better or for worse.

We may even yet develop into a society in which the wealthy can pay to have themselves cloned, and then use their clones as spare parts, just as was portrayed in the 2005 film ‘The Island’. Hopefully not. Almost certainly we will see some kind of organ and limb factories, able to supply lab-grown spare parts to hospitals. Yet, alongside this there is another even more mind-bending development underway…

We have all heard of modular living, micro-homes that can be fused together to form larger residential structures. Modular is something of a buzzword, but have you ever heard it used in connection to our human body? Well, you soon will. Let me prepare you for one of the creepiest potential developments to emerge from the strange minds of the bio-engineering egg heads. Modular bodies.

Sick of having just two arms? Honestly, who isn’t?

Don’t much fancy all the blood and gore involved in having some wanna-be-doctor-Frankenstein sew an extra one onto your torso? Me neither.

At present this is something just being suggested as a possibility, a dummy prototype called Oscar featured in a recent film project, but we have to realise that this is an avenue of research which humanity will inevitably go down. Are we ready for plug and play organs and limbs grown from stem cells? Are we even ready to consider the concept and possibility of such?

Sources

The Modular Body – www.themodularbody.com

On the Horizon: Lab-Grown Spare Parts for Brains – www.scientificamerican.com

 

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