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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wake Forest scientists grow body parts in lab; new urethras work normally

Wake Forest scientists grow body parts in lab; new urethras work normally

It’s a medical breakthrough right out of science fiction: Diseased or damaged body parts can be replaced with new tissue grown from a patient’s own cells.
These tissue-engineering advances have become a reality through the work of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, part of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The institute this week had new research results published online by medical journal The Lancet. Six years after replacing damaged urethras in five boys, the new urethras showed that the engineered tissue continued to function normally.
“These findings suggest that engineered urethras can be used successfully in patients and may be an alternative to the current treatment, which has a high failure rate,” Dr. Anthony Atala, a pediatric urologic surgeon and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said in a statement. “This is an example of how the strategies of tissue engineering can be applied to multiple tissues and organs.”
The new tissue is engineered by taking tissue samples from patients and multiplying the cells in the lab. The tissue is placed on a scaffold shaped like a urethral tube. The new urethral tubes made from the patient’s tissue are then surgically implanted in the body. They’re not rejected because the body recognizes the cells as its own tissue.
New urethras are only the tip of the iceberg. At the recent TED Conference in Long Beach, California, Atala gave a talk and demonstration in which he used a printer to print with cells, rather than ink. Atala printed a kidney-shaped mold.
Here’s a video about the work done at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine:

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