Lab-Engineered Intestinal Tissue Could Be Used to Treat Bowel Disease, Two Studies Demonstrate

Lab-Engineered Intestinal Tissue Could Be Used to Treat Bowel Disease, Two Studies Demonstrate
Wake Forest University researchers have engineered sphincter muscles and intestines to replace damaged tissue in rabbits and rats with digestive system illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease. "Our goal is to use a patient's own cells to engineer replacement tissue in the lab for devastating conditions that affect the digestive system," Dr. Khalil N. Bitar, a professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said in a news release. The researchers at the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, institute reported on their work in two studies. One, titled “Successful Treatment of Passive Fecal Incontinence in an Animal Model Using Engineered Biosphincters: A 3 Month Follow-Up Study,” was published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine. The other, “Transplantation of a Human Tissue-Engineered Bowel in an Athymic Rat Model," was published in Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods. "Results from both projects are promising and exciting," Bitar said. Sphincters are ring-like anal muscles that control the discharge of stool. They can lose their normal function due to cancer, damage from child birth, and other causes. The damage often results in incontinence. Current treatment options involve replacing the muscles with tissue grafts, artificial devices or artificial materials. None of those approaches is effective, and they can lead to complications and side effects. "The regenerative medicine approach has a promising potential for people affected by passive fecal incontinence," Bitar said. "These patients face embarrassment, limited social activities leading to depression and, because they are reluctant to report their condition, they often suffer without help." His team engineered sphincters from tissue, smooth muscle and nerve cells c
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