Cancer victim growing a new nose in his arm: Businessman who lost organ to disease hopes to have new one sewn on to his face

Cancer victim who lost his nose to disease is growing a new one in his ARM for surgeons to sew back in place
British man, 56, who is being kept annonymous, lost his nose to skin cancer
Experts at University College London hope it will have a sense of smellProfessor Alex Seifalian said the nose will be the same as the man's orginalIt is the first time a nose has been grown from scratch and scientists say it procedure could be used to help car crash victims and wounded soldiers

By
Fiona Macrae Science Correspondent

PUBLISHED:

22:31 GMT, 22 January 2013

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UPDATED:

05:02 GMT, 23 January 2013

A British businessman who lost his nose to cancer is growing a new one – in his arm.

If all goes well it will eventually be removed and sewn on to his face, with experts at University College London hoping he will have feeling and a sense of smell.

The new nose, the first in the world to be grown from scratch, will also look just like the 56-year-old man’s old one – slightly crooked.

Glass Mould Preview.jpg

UCL scientist Professor Alex Seifalian,
who is behind the pioneering treatment, said: ‘His nose was a little bit
bent to the left and we asked if he wanted it straight but he said no,
he wanted it exactly the same.’

The new nose began as a glass mould, based on the original, which was sprayed with a synthetic honeycomb-like material to create a framework for stem cells to cling to.

The mould was then removed and the honey- comb covered with millions of these ‘blank cells’ which, with the right nutrients, can turn into the cartilage of the nose – a process which took place at UCL in a rotating jar called a bioreactor.

Meanwhile, the skin on the man’s arm was gradually stretched by a small balloon placed under the surface and inflated until it was loose enough to accommodate the nose.

Professor Alex Seifalian hopes to eventually grow a whole face in the lab and says procedure could help car crash victims and wounded soldiers

Professor Alex Seifalian hopes to eventually grow a whole face in the lab and says procedure could help car crash victims and wounded soldiers

Around two months ago, when the framework was ready, it replaced the balloon under the stretched skin.

The new nose is now bulging out of the man’s arm, where it is acquiring networks of nerves and tiny blood vessels, as well as a covering of skin from the arm. As Professor Seifalian told BBC Focus magazine: ‘We can make the nose but we can’t make the skin.’

After at least three months there, the
nose will be removed and sewn in place on the man’s face in an
operation that should not leave any scars. The arm should return to
normal, with the skin stitched back together.

The
man, who wishes to remain anonymous, had his nose removed after skin
cancer started to eat it away. Treatment to stop the tumour returning
compounded the damage, and psychological scars left him virtually
housebound.

Similar patients, car crash victims and wounded soldiers could all be helped if the operation is a success.

The
landmark project has echoes of a US attempt in the 1990s to grow ears
on a mouse for transplant. That failed, but there have been many
advances in science since.

Professor
Seifalian, who hopes eventually to grow a whole face in the lab, said:
‘We have got all our fingers crossed until they are breaking.’

The pioneering treatment is being done by experts at University College London, pictured

The pioneering treatment is being done by experts at University College London, pictured