STANFORD, Calif. A new study shows that muscle cells grown in the lab can restore an intestine's ability to squeeze shut properly. The work, performed in dogs and rats, might ultimately help treat patients with conditions such as gastric reflux and fecal incontinence.
This technique may be used to strengthen sphincters, which are the bands of muscle that separate the major sections of your intestinal tract. Weakness in these areas can cause gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, which affects 25 million adults in the United States. It is also a cause of fecal incontinence, or loss of control of the bowels, which afflicts more than 5 percent of adults under 40, especially women after childbirth; its prevalence increases with age.
"This represents a very logical and new direction for treatment of such conditions," said Stanford professor of medicine Pankaj Pasricha, MD, lead author of the study in the December 2009 issue of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. "After injecting muscle cells in that area of weakness, those muscle cells thrive and get integrated into the existing tissues, and then add to the strength of the sphincter," added Pasricha, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Stanford.
Funding for this project came from Cook MyoSite Inc., developer of the technique used to grow muscle cells.
GERD is usually caused by a weakened sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus, the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach. If this sphincter's muscles fail to contract properly, food and stomach acids can move into the esophagus and cause symptoms including heartburn two to three times a week.
Not only do reflux sufferers experience frequent heartburn but the constant presence of stomach acid changes the cells of the esophagus in up to 10 percent of patients, a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which may become cancerous.
Patients suffering from the socially ostracizing disorde
|Contact: Tracie White|
Stanford University Medical Center