Dr Julian Cook's science laboratory
The scientific world is a buzz with news of all the exciting things we’re going to do to the human body in the coming decade. Imagine you could have the eyes of a chameleon grafted onto your face and were able to swivel them independently of each other. You’d finally have achieved that ‘Lloyd Webber’ effect youâ€™d always desired, except sexier – and you’d add a whole new dimension to otherwise pointless workouts at the gym.
Procedures like this sound rather complicated but in fact it’s pretty easy to understand if you can just remember the timeless lads’ night staple Cocktail starring an impossibly youthful Tom Cruise. In this film, Tom has to select from an intimidating array of exotic liqueurs in order to mix up the perfect tipple so that he may summon the attention of his female friend. It really is an emotional rollercoaster but it’s not a far cry from what we guys at The Institute’s Human Tissue Technologies lab are doing with your body parts.
Let’s say that Tom no longer wants to rustle up a delicious French Martini but a functioning human kidney. Instead of a dash of Chambord and a twist of lemon, he instead squirts living human cells into his little vessel, which is not so much a cocktail shaker as a gelatinous kidney shaped mould. And after it’s all been prepared, he doesn’t so much present the fabulous concoction to his alcoholic lady friend for approval, but implant it directly into her body where it immediately sets about filtering her urine.
And it’s not just kidneys: we have already achieved hearts, arteries and various other ingenious conceptions in our labs. In fact, the next time you’re at the movies, take a closer look at Angelina Jolie’s veiny forearms and you’ll immediately recognise a precise route map of the breathtaking Cote d’Azur region of France – something which she didn’t request upon her vein replacement consultation but I’m sure she is now grateful for when she makes her annual road trip to the Cannes Film Festival.
Undeniably, it’s wonderful news for all of us, but in particular for the Dancing on Ice star, Heather Mills who at some point this decade, may be able to grow herself a new leg for skating and lashing out with. In fact, advances may be such that scientists could graft almost anything onto Heather’s stump – at her consultation I might recommend a glamorous rotating mirror ball or perhaps a Kindle because they really are marvellous.
Dr Julian Cook is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Studies