Wednesday, 09 March 2011 16:25

Tissue-engineered urethras Featured

A team of doctors from Mexico and the United States has been successful in engineering artificial urethras using the body´s own cells. The urethras are fully functional six years after transplant. The structure and function  are nearly the same as naturally grown tissue.

The doctors worked with five boys. Three boys had suffered serious hip damage, two other boys had had ineffective urethra operations. To solve their problems, the physicians took a small tissue sample from each during a bladder biopsy. From the sample they isolated muscle and epithelia cells and left the two cells types three to six weeks cultivating in the lab. Then the cultivated cells were set on a three-dimensional biodegradable urethra-seized frame. As in nature, the muscle cells were placed on the outer side of the frame and the epithelia cells were placed on the inner side of the frame. Seven days later the urethra-like frames were overgrown with cells. Now the physicians replaced the damaged part of the urethras with the articifical, individually-formed new urethras.

In an article published in the magazine Lancet, Atlantida Rava-Rivera from Wake Forest University of Winston-Salem suggested that it is possible that this kind of treatment could be a good alternative to conventional methods which normally show a high defect rate but he added that further investigation is nessessary. Additionally the research results cannot be applied to adults. The urethras of children and adults are different.

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