Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and colleagues from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine are reporting successful implantation of laboratory-grown bladders to seven children and teens. The research, published in the latest Lancet, is a breakthrough that is holding up over time:
The report involves children who were treated at Boston Children’s Hospital when Atala was director of the Tissue Engineering and Cellular Therapeutics at Harvard Medical School. In 2004, Atala’s program moved to Wake Forest.
The process for growing each patient’s organ began with a biopsy to get samples of muscle cells and the cells that line the bladder walls. These cells were grown in a culture in the laboratory until there were enough cells to place onto a specially constructed biodegradable mold, or scaffold, shaped like a bladder.
The cells continued to grow. Then, seven or eight weeks after the biopsy, the engineered bladders were sutured to patients’ original bladders during surgery. The scaffold was designed to degrade as the bladder tissue integrated with the body. Testing showed that the engineered bladders functioned as well as bladders that are repaired with intestine tissue, but with none of the ill effects.
“We have shown that regenerative medicine techniques can be used to generate functional bladders that are durable,” said Atala. “This suggests that regenerative medicine may one day be a solution to the shortage of donor organs in this country for those needing transplants.”
Yes, this is good news for myelomeningocele sufferers. And the procedure is technically organogenesis, though the same techniques are used for tissue engineered skin and cartilage. We’ll see how well things go with organs of more complexity in the coming years.
The press release from Wake Forest University…
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