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Laboratory-grown urethras implanted in patients, scientists report
Date:3/7/2011

WINSTON-SALEM, NC March 7, 2011 Researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and colleagues reported today on a new advance in tissue engineering. The team is the first in the world to use patients' own cells to build tailor-made urinary tubes and successfully replace damaged tissue.

In an article published Online First by The Lancet, the research team reports replacing damaged segments of urinary tubes (urethras) in five boys. Tests to measure urine flow and tube diameter showed that the engineered tissue remained functional throughout the six-year (median) follow-up period.

"These findings suggest that engineered urethras can be used successfully in patients and may be an alternative to the current treatment, which has a high failure rate," said Anthony Atala, M.D., senior author, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a pediatric urologic surgeon. "This is an example of how the strategies of tissue engineering can be applied to multiple tissues and organs."

Atala's team used a similar approach to engineer replacement bladders that were implanted in nine children beginning in 1998, becoming the first in the world to implant laboratory-grown organs in humans. Researchers at the institute are currently working to engineer more than 30 different replacement tissues and organs.

Defective urethras can be the result of injury, disease or birth defects. While short defects in the tube are often easily repairable, larger defects can require a tissue graft, usually taken from skin or from the lining of the cheek.

"These grafts, which can have failure rates of more than 50 percent, often become narrowed, leading to infections, difficulty urinating, pain and bleeding," said Atlantida-Raya Rivera, lead author and director of the HIMFG Tissue Engineering Laboratory at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City.

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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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