Scientists Grow New Urethra in Lab?
Watching human organs take shape in a lab dish is no longer the realm of science fiction: as scientists get better at applying engineering techniques to living cells and tissues, lab-grown organs are increasingly becoming a reality. And this week, researchers at Wake Forest University report that they have for the first time successfully created a urethra that worked in human patients.
The research team, led by Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, began with a biodegradable scaffolding molded roughly into the shape of a thin tube to resemble a human urethra. The urethra is responsible for transporting urine waste outside of the body, and in men, can be narrowed by disease or damaged by trauma. Atala's group then seeded the scaffold with bladder cells from the patients who would be using the tubes. This way, the tissue was the patients' own.