Scientists have been successful in growing urethra using
bladder cells. This study has been published in 'The Lancet'. Urethral replacements
are required for reconstructive procedures in conditions where severe damage to
the urethra leads to inability of urination. Currently urethral replacements
are grown from the patient's skin. However sometimes improper tissue
development occurs due to which a repeat surgery may be needed. However this
new method involves elimination of improper tissue development.
The study involved 5-boys with urethral defects with
an average age of 11-years. For grafting purpose scientists swabbed the
urethral area for cells instead of skin cells. They grew these cells into tubular
urethras which were further used to replace the damaged urethra. 3-months
post the implant urethras developed a normal appearance and had no defects. After
the procedure, the children had a normal urine flow up to 6-years.
Urethral reconstructive surgery with the help of current methods has 50%
success rate or patients can face life long incontinence and repeated urinary
tract infections (UTI). This new procedure could become an alternative leading
to fewer complications and reduce the chances of subsequent surgeries. The failure
rates are also greatly reduced.
Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a co-author
of the study, Dr. Anthony Atala, "The study shows that 'tissues can be
engineered using the patients' own cells, and they last long term. Clinical trials
are underway for the same procedure in adult patients."