Pioneering Implantation of Laboratory Synthesised Bladders

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Pioneering Implantation of Laboratory Synthesised Bladders

Successful bladder transplantation in seven young patients with myelomeningocoele has been achieved following research led by Dr. Anthony Atala at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University, United States. Each patient underwent a bladder biopsy to harvest urothelial cells, which were subsequently grown for 7-8 weeks on a specially designed bladder shaped scaffold. The synthesized bladder was then surgically attached to the existing bladder, with a follow-up period of 5 years.

Bladder function siginificantly improved without adverse effects and this is therefore a major milestone. Standard reconstructive surgery utilizes tissue grafts from the small intestine or stomach to repair the damaged bladder. This carries complications such as an increased risk of cancer, predisposition to osteoporosis and kidney calculi formation. Extended research is now underway on artificial angiogenesis and myocardial regeneration, the potential to revolutionise transplantation is enormous.

Dr. Atala told the IJS: “This is one small step in our ability to go forward in replacing damaged tissues and organs. It is rewarding when you can see the improved quality of life in these patients. We wanted to go slowly and carefully make sure we did it the right way. This is a small, limited experience, but it has enough follow-up to show us that tissue engineering is a viable tool that will allow us to tackle problems of a similar magnitude.”

Atala A, Bauer SB, Soker S, Yoo JJ, Retik AB. Tissue-engineered autologous bladders for patients needing cystoplasty. Lancet. 2006 Apr 15; 367(9518):1241-6.