Tissue created in a laboratory has been used to completely replace the erectile tissue of the penis in animals.
The advance raises hopes of being able to restore full function to human penises that have been damaged by injury or disease.
Rabbits given the engineered tissue by the scientists from Wake Forest University in North Carolina had normal sexual function and produced offspring.
The study appears online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor Anthony Atala said: "Further studies are required, of course, but our results are encouraging and suggest that the technology has considerable potential for patients who need penile reconstruction.
"Our hope is that patients with congenital abnormalities, penile cancer, traumatic injury and some cases of erectile dysfunction will benefit from this technology in the future."Reconstructing damaged or diseased penile erectile tissue
is a tough challenge because of the tissue's complex structure and function.-BBC