Dr. Robert Evans of Wake Forest University contacted the ICN this weekend to ask if we could let people know about a groundbreaking new study that seeks to grow new bladder tissue using cutting edge bioengineering techniques. Yes, that means that they are growing new bladder tissue from a patients own cells. This is a remarkable moment in history.  Using  patients own cells greatly reduces the chance of tissue rejection and is certainly preferable to the use of bowel tissue when expanding bladder capacity and, eventually, replacing the bladder entirely.  Here’s what he wrote:

I am writing to see if you would be interested in putting something out over the IC Network  I am involved with Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.  We have been granted permission from the FDA to proceed ahead with the next phase of our bladder regeneration project and are looking for patients  Specifically we need someone with a small capacity bladder (under 150 on CMG) with severe frequency who would be willing to participate in this bladder regeneration project 

They would have to agree to undergo  a procedure where  we would first remove a 1-2 inch square piece of bladder .  This would then be processed and the cells placed on a scaffolding in a bioreactor and it would grow into a 500 ml or so piece of new bladder tissue   We would then use this bioengineered augment  use to enlarge the bladder  The hope is that we would see a drop in the number of voids per day since the bladder would be so much bigger. This would not be for someone who has pain but does not have a small bladder. The ideal candidate would have what we in my lab refer to as a bladder centric phenotype without other systemic manifestations  

Ideally, the patient will live in the North Carolina or would be willing to relocate to that area. Wake Forest will assist in the location of housing. 

If you are interested in this study,
please send Jill an email at: icnetwork@mac.com.
She will then provide you the contact information for Dr. Evans.

Wake Forest Was The First In The World To Grow Bladders Used In Humans

Physicians and scientists at WFIRM were the first in the world to engineer laboratory-grown bladders and other organs that were successfully implanted into humans. Today, this team is working to engineer more than 40 different replacement tissues and organs, and to develop healing cell therapies – all with the goal to cure, rather than merely treat, disease. They have successfully engineered replacement tissues and organs in all four categories – flat structures, tubular tissues, hollow organs and solid organs – and 15 different applications of cell/tissue therapy technologies, such as skin, urethras, cartilage, bladders, muscle, kidney, and vaginal organs, have been successfully used in human patients.

The process and science of bioengineering is fascinating. Patients donate a tissue sample which, in this case, would be a 1″ to 2″ square piece of bladder. Then, each layer of cells is grown in a laboratory. Eventually, these new cells are mounted on a “scaffold” that is roughly the shape of the bladder. Over time, the cells cover the scaffold and a new organ has essentially been grown. They are also developing new ways to “print” tissue. The challenge lay in providing blood supply. In the early studies, they wrapped the newly created bladders in tissue from the abdomen that is very rich in blood vessels. These were implanted, with success, in children with spina bifida.  More recently, the Institute was also creating smaller versions of organs that could be used for research purposes. Learn the ABC’s of Organ Engineering Here!

Watch a TED Talk of Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Center, explaining their work.