Growing human body parts on fruit is probably not something you ever considered possible. But you're not biohacker and scientist Andrew Pelling. As part of his research Pelling has been using an apple to grow living human cells, forming the shape of an ear.
It isn't an actual ear that can hear, but it is grown out of real human cells. With it Pelling is looking at affordable materials to use to create what's called "scaffolding"—a solid structure—to grow skin cells or other types of organs which can then be used by humans. In the apple ear experiment the scaffolding is apple cellulose. The ears themselves were actually sculpted by hand into the cellulose by Pelling’s wife.
It's all very experimental at the moment, on his TED Talk (above) Pelling says that the tech is years away even from clinical trials, but you have to start somewhere.
It's not just apples either, Pelling is also looking at how asparagus can help with neural growth after spinal injury. “What I’m really curious about,” he notes, “is if one day we can repair, rebuild and augment our own bodies with stuff we use in the kitchen."
As stated using fruit and vegetables while it sounds bizarre is lot cheaper than the types of scaffolding currently used which come from branded products, animals, or corpses. It might not work out, but Pelling believes in taking risks to make advancements.
Meanwhile Pelling and his team will continue their experiments in their lab at the University of Ottawa with their eyes to the future. Pelling's thinking is that people are seemingly OK with the idea of implanting electronics in themselves, so why not something more organic?