YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

Urethras can now be made in the lab -- and they work

March 08, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Wake Forest University…)

Growing tissue outside the body -- and then making it work inside the body -- is an effort still in its infancy. But it has promise. Much promise. Now researchers have pushed the promise of regenerative medicine closer to reality, by creating urethras out of cells grown in a lab.

Researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina report that they have successfully taken tissue from five boys who had urethral defects, coaxed that tissue to grow on "tubularised polyglycolic acid:poly(lactide-co-glycolide acid) scaffolds" -- i.e., they turned the tissue into tubes -- and successfully inserted the tubes into the boys.

An account of their work was published Tuesday in the Lancet. The short version: The grafts appeared normal three months after they were implanted.

The researchers concluded, quite confidently: "Tubularised urethras can be engineered and remain functional in a clinical setting for up to 6 years. These engineered urethras can be used in patients who need complex urethral reconstruction."

This diagram from Gray's Anatomy shows what urethras actually do -- helpful for anyone uncertain of the importance of the structures.

Obviously, such work bodes well for the future of regenerative medicine. Sure, it's preliminary, but it seems to be a good start.

Los Angeles Times Articles