Stress incontinence affects nearly 15 million people worldwide. Problems with a patient's urethra causes urine leakage from exercising, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects. Austrian researchers say they are successfully treating incontinent women with their own stem cells, which they say makes the treatment especially promising.
The procedure involves removing stem cells from a patient's arm, culture them for six weeks, thereby yielding 50 million new muscle cells, and then injecting them into the patient's urethra wall. Researchers tested 20 women with stress incontinence. One year after the procedure, 18 of the 20 patients remained continent.
According to researchers not only do the stem cells stay where they are injected, but they also quickly form new muscle tissue, and when the muscle mass reaches the appropriate size, the cell growth ceases automatically.
However researchers say that the procedure does not appear to work well for men suffering from incontinence caused by prostate surgery as it often results in scar tissue formation, where stem cells do not grow very well.