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Big leap: Bladder built in lab

In what paves the way for "spare part" medicine, a team of US researchers has grown human bladders in the laboratory using tissue engineering.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2006 02:38 IST
Vijay Dutt

In what paves the way for "spare part" medicine, a team of US researchers has grown human bladders in the laboratory using tissue engineering and successfully implanted them in young patients with myelomeningocele, a congenital bladder disease.

The researchers from North Carolina's Wake Forest Hospital used the patients' own tissues to grow the organs -- which in future could lessen the dependency on donors.

The researchers carried out seven transplants and in some the organ is working well years later. The patients did not suffer the ill effects caused by current technique -- reconstructive surgery involving skin grafts from part of the intestine.

The details of the "achievement" have been published by The Lancet. The team is now using the technique to grow other organs including hearts.

Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University who led the trial, said it was a vital step towards the goal of replacing damaged organs. "We have shown regenerative medicine techniques can be used to generate functional bladders that are durable," he said. "This suggests regenerative medicine may one day be a solution to the shortage of donor organs."

Throughout the world, thousands of people die every year waiting for donor organs and thousands more never make it on to the waiting lists.