New research from McGill University has shown that the bladder acellular matrix [BAM], or the external structure of connective tissue and growth factors that house the cellular components of the bladder, can serve as a scaffolding unit for mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] to regenerate healthy bladder tissue. The stem cells receive growth factors from the BAM, which direct them to differentiate into new bladder cells that, when transplanted into an animal model, exhibit nearly 100% normal bladder capacity and function.
A research team led by Doctor Alexander Seifalian at University College London is currently creating custom lab-grown organs and body parts for patients utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells. The scientists have engineered a polymer material that they mold into the shape of an organ in need, infuse with the patient’s stem cells, and then transplant back onto the patient’s body.
Researchers all around the world are working towards utilizing stem cells to grow replacement organs. While once thought to be a futuristic concept, it is now very real. Doctors and researchers have successfully transplanted lab grown bladders, blood vessels, tear ducts, arteries and windpipes. Now, research teams around the world are growing urethras, bile ducts, larynxes, bones, livers, kidneys, and even hearts.
Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine reported their findings in an animal study in which rats were able to re-grow their bladders in as little as 8 weeks. The focus of the study was to better understand the regenerative process at work in the re-growth of the bladder.