Miraculous Foreskin

I read recently of a research project at the University of Wisconsin in which foreskin tissue, discarded after the circumcision of Jewish infants, was used to examine the aging of human skin. Reports of the project have even reached the pages of Pravda.

In a spontaneous mutation some of the cells changed into a strain which reproduced. What's more the cells didn't die either. In the experiment most of them did, but a few survived and eventually "wound healed" over the entire petri dish. While clinical tests are some time off in the future, it has already been proven that in animal trials this skin will heal superficial wounds. Microscopic examinations indicate this skin grows in stratified layers just like ordinary skin. They have also prepared tissue which has been genetically engineered so that they are infected with various skin diseases. Researchers now have tissue they can use to test the treatment of those diseases without using humans.

There is hope that the immortal skin will also be useful in treating third degree burns, which may cover extensive portions of the body. It is estimated that over 13,000 burn victims each year could be helped with skin grafts, using this tissue.

As far as I know, work is still being done on whether this foreign tissue will be rejected by the human body. If the cells are accepted, medical science will have added a miraculous tool to its arsenal of skin treatments.

jessicapierce has asked me to append a bibliography for those who want to read more on the topic. Thank the cyber gods for Google.
The topic first attracted my attention here:
The discovery was reported here:
A report from the University of Wisconsin, Madison:
Another report from Hypography
An interview in Pathfinder:

The foreskin (prepuce) is most certainly not a useless piece of skin. The foreskin is the part of the penile skin that covers the glans. The foreskin is attached to the penis only at the base of the glans and by the frenulum and so is able to roll over the glans in a unique manner. When the penis is flaccid the foreskin naturally extends over the glans, although it can be manually retracted. During an erection the foreskin is usually retracted, but most men have enough foreskin that it can slide over the glans when erect. The foreskin is very stretchy, and quite sensitive. It is however much stronger than the glans that it protects.

Babies are born with a non-retractile foreskin, which protects the penis from faeces and urine. During childhood the degree to which the foreskin can be retracted gradually increases. The foreskin should never be forced back. If the foreskin cannot be retracted by adolescence a doctor should be consulted. The condition of having a non-retractile foreskin is known as phimosis.

The glans does not have skin in the same way that most other parts of the body do. It is like the inside of the mouth in that it is covered only by a mucus membrane. In circumsised individuals this membrane thickens, and some sensitivity is lost. The foreskin itself is also a source of erotic pleasure. Smegma is secreted by the foreskin, and acts as a sexual lubricant, helping minimalize chafing.

The foreskin protects the glans from day to day scrapes, which are dificult to heal. In hot climates it protects the glans from sunburn, and when it is cold the foreskin helps to prevent frostbite in the end of the penis.

Fore"skin (?), n. Anat.

The fold of skin which covers the glans of the penis; the prepuce.


© Webster 1913.

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