Laboratory-Grown Organs a Success

Further experiments will show,
which organs can be grown in the
lab; © Picture Disk

“This is one small step in our ability to go forward in replacing damaged tissues and organs,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who is now working to grow 20 different tissues and organs, including blood vessels and hearts, in the laboratory.

The study involved patients from four to 19 years old who had poor bladder function because of a congenital birth defect that causes incomplete closure of the spine. Their bladders were not pliable and the high pressures could be transmitted to their kidneys, possibly leading to kidney damage. They had urinary leakage, as frequently as every 30 minutes.

The main goal of the surgery was to reduce pressures inside the bladder to preserve the kidneys. In addition, urinary incontinence, which was a problem before the surgery, improved in all patients.

The patients were candidates for a procedure to repair the non-functioning bladder tissue with tissue from the intestines. This 100-year-old procedure is also used to “build” bladders for patients with bladder cancer. But because the intestine is designed to absorb nutrients and a bladder is designed to excrete, patients who have the procedure are prone to such problems as osteoporosis, increased risk of cancer and kidney stone formation.

“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.”

Atala said the approach needs further study before it can be widely used. Additional clinical trials of the bladders are scheduled to begin later this year.

MEDICA.de; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center