Regenerative medicine has gone the extra mile by producing a fully functional custom made bladder for Kaitlyne McNamara, who was born with spina bifida and a diseased bladder. Sixteen year old Kaitlyne is one of the first people to receive a complex human organ grown from her own stem cells. Once incontinent, she hasn't had any embarrassing accidents and is enjoying her new social life.
Researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston extracted a small section of the diseased bladder, then Kaitlyne's healthy adult stem cells were isolated and placed on a "scaffold" made of collagen, layer by layer. By seven weeks the cells developed into a functioning organ and then sewn to what was left of the patient's partially working bladder. Since the bladder was created using Kaitlyne's own stem cells, her body did not reject it.
"This suggests that tissue engineering may one day be a solution to the shortage of donor organs in this country for those needing transplants," said Dr. Anthony Atala, the lead researcher, who also published breakthrough research using amniotic stem cells in early 2007.
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