One day artificial penis tissue could be grown to help men, new findings in rabbits now suggest.
After implantation with replacement tissue, lab rabbits that once had damaged penises had working organs and could produce offspring.
"Further studies are required, of course, but our results are encouraging and suggest that the technology has considerable potential for patients who need penile reconstruction," said researcher Dr. Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Such methods could potentially aid men who just want to enhance their normal penises, rather than repairing any damage.
"Our intent and the goal of our work is to provide a solution for men who need penile erectile tissue for medical reasons," Atala told LiveScience. "Of course, you cannot control how the technology is used in terms of what patients want."
The real hope is "that patients with congenital abnormalities, penile cancer, traumatic injury and some cases of erectile dysfunction will benefit from this technology in the future," Atala said.