WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The first working, replacement anal sphincters have been built in a laboratory and tested on mice.
Now scientists hope the research will benefit humans with fecal and urinary incontinence, because current methods used to repair internal anal sphincters, such as skeletal muscle grafts, silicone injections or mechanical implants, have had only limited success.
"In essence, we have built a replacement sphincter that we hope can one day benefit human patients. This is the first bioengineered sphincter made with both muscle and nerve cells, making it 'pre-wired' for placement in the body," senior author Khalil N. Bitar, a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said in a Wake Forest news release.
Scientists were able to make the bioengineered anal sphincters in about six weeks using human muscle and nerve cells. They found the sphincters were able to generate blood supply and work properly in mice.
The investigators hope their research will lead to a more effective treatment for humans because there is a high rate of weakened internal anal sphincters in older adults. Women who had episiotomies during childbirth can also be affected by this condition.
"Many individuals find themselves withdrawing from their social lives and attempting to hide the problem from their families, friends, and even their doctors," said Bitar. "Many people suffer without help."
Repeated laboratory tests of the engineered sphincters showed they functioned normally, relaxing and contracting, in the mice. The sphincters were also re-tested after a period of 25 days and compared to the mice's original sphincters. The researchers found the man-made sphincters continued to work like natural ones.
The mice chosen for the experiment had suppressed immune systems to reduce the risk of rejection of the new sphincters, the s
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