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What if dying patients waiting for an organ transplant could receive a custom, lab-grown replacement rather than waiting for a donor organ?

To some, this may sound like science fiction--and in many ways, it still is. But the advances in the field of regenerative medicine that made headlines last week suggest such lab-grown organs may become reality in the future.

One of these advances was Swedish scientists' creation of a custom vein that has carried blood from a little girl's intestines to her liver for a year and counting. In another, a group in Japan successfully implanted lab-grown livers made from human cells into mice--organs that metabolized drugs the way they would in a human.

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