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Researchers Grow Anal Sphincters in Laboratory

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Researchers Grow Anal Sphincters in Laboratory

Lab grown anal sphincters successfully implanted in mice…

With medical technology advancing every day, it’s not going to be long before there isn’t a single part of the body that cannot be grown or replicated. Researchers have already had success growing miniature human livers, sperm, bone and lungs in the lab, and now a team led by Khalil N. Bitar, Ph.D., have successfully grown and implanted anal sphincters in lab mice.

Bitar, currently a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centers Institute for Regenerative Medicine, performed the work when he was at University of Michigan faculty with a colleague from Emory University.

To create the anal sphincters the researchers took a biopsy from a human sphincter and isolated muscle cells. The cells were then multiplied and layered in a ring shape mold along with nerve cells from the mice. The mold was then incubated for nine days, allowing for tissue formation.

The researchers then implanted the sphincters alongside the mice natural anal sphincters. Although the lab grown sphincters did not replace the function of the mice natural organ, the new organ was fully functional with its own blood supply and nerve cells.

The anal sphincter is a thin ring of muscle that maintains separation between your insides and your outsides. There are two anal sphincters, an internal and outer. More often it’s the internal sphincter that malfunctions, and this can affect many people as they age. Needless to say such a condition is messy and embarrassing, but it’s not just the elderly that will benefits from the research; women recovering from child birth can also be affected by malfunctioning anal sphincters.

Bitar says that the ultimate goal is use a patient’s own muscle and nerve cells to grow the organ, before implanting it back in the same patient.

The research was reported in the medical journal Gastroenterology.


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