Functioning rat lungs grown in a lab... with detergent?

For the first time ever, rats implanted with lab-grown lungs were able to breathe and oxygenate their blood. It's a huge step towards being able to grow organs for people who need replacements, ending the need for live-patient transplants.

We're still a ways off, to be sure, but biomedical engineer Laura Niklason at Yale University was able to construct wee lungs for the rodents using a process called "decellularization." The process involves creating organ "scaffolds" by rinsing organs with detergent to leave just a bare structure. Using a mixture of fetal rat cells and formed tissues and blood samples, new lungs were able to grow over them.

It sounds like science fiction, but it's real, and it worked. Who wants to start smoking? By the time I'm in any trouble I'll be able to just order up a replacement pair of lungs, right?

Science NOW, via io9