Bladder Regeneration Technique Uses Auto-Harvested Stem Cells

HealthLeaders Media Staff, December 13, 2010

Researchers in the United States have developed a medical model for regenerating bladders using stem cells harvested from a patient's own marrow.

"Advances in the use of bone marrow stem cells taken from the patient opens up new opportunities for exploring organ replacement therapies, especially for bladder regeneration," according to co-author, Arun Sharma, Ph.D., of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and Children's Memorial Research Center. But, he tells HealthLeaders, use in a clinical setting, however, is still years away.

The research, published in the journal Stem Cells, focused on bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) taken from the patient. The findings demonstrate the plasticity of stem cells derived from bone marrow.

Researchers found that bone marrow MSCs have phenotypic and physiological similarities with bladder smooth muscle cells (bSMCs), implying that MSCs can serve as an alternative cell source for potentially damaged bSMCs.

The team developed a primate-based model, using the baboon bladder in conjunction with bone marrow MSCs to attempt partial bladder regeneration. They found that the mesenchymal stem cells retained the ability to populate a surgically grafted area while remaining active 10 weeks after surgery. The cells also retained the ability to express key smooth muscle cell markers—essential for the continual expansion and contractile cycles of a functional bladder.

The team's research demonstrates the feasibility of MSCs in partial bladder regeneration, and the use of a primate-based model provides valuable insight into these processes as they may apply to humans, according to investigators.

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