Monday, May 22, 2006

In the news: Stem cells for incontinence

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an article about treating incontinence with autologous stem cells. Sounds interesting, but the article doesn't shed much light on the specifics. Snip:
The treatment involves harvesting muscle cells taken from a biopsy of the patient's upper arm. Those cells are grown in a laboratory for seven weeks, and a small amount of collagen is mixed in. 'What's nice is they are using the patient's own cells,' said [Dr. Elliott] Silbar, who was not involved in the study. 'You are not going to have any problem with rejection or diseases. It's totally biocompatible.' What is not known is whether the new cells become functioning muscle, as is theorized, or whether the injections are just providing bulk, as is the case with other treatments, Silbar said.

The extracted cells become both myoblasts, or the precursor to muscle cells, and fibroblasts, a type of connective tissue cell. The fibroblasts were injected into the urethra, the canal that carries urine out of the bladder. The myoblasts were injected into the rhabdosphincter, a ring of muscle around the urethra that acts as a valve. Link.

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