Kaitlyne McNamara needed a new bladder. She was born with the rare genetic disorder, Spina Bifida. Because of the disease, some of her internal organs did not fully develop. Because of her underdeveloped bladder, by the age of 3, Kaitlyne would independently catheterize herself on a regular basis. Not something you think a 3 year old would need to be taught to do.
When Kaitlyne was 16 years old, she and her family learned of the organ regeneration research of Dr. Anthony Atala at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Kaitlyne was an ideal candidate for an experimental procedure: Scientists would take some of Kaitlyne’s tissue and separate the stem cells. Outside of her body these cells were then engineered to grow on a 3-D scaffold layer-by-layer. An incubator was used to help the tissues grow into a new organ, in this case a new bladder. Starting with a few of Kaitlyne’s own cells and after 6 weeks of development in the laboratory, her new bladder was ready for transplantation. Once implanted, the new bladder continued to grow and function as a normal bladder.
Carte Blanche (05/06/07)
In addition to repairing defective bladders with tissue engineering as discussed above, other scientists are using these same techniques to heal and restore other body parts, for example, to construct blood vessels, repair damaged heart tissues, and to regenerate damaged or diseased esophagus and trachea.
Recently, Dr. Stephen Badylak, Deputy Director, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, spoke with Regenerative Medicine Today about the efforts of reconstructing an esophagus he and members of his lab are currently working on. Listen to his interview on the subject.
Podcast #29 (03/2007)