Washington: In a global breakthrough, scientists have used patient cells to tailor urinary tubes and successfully replace a damaged tissue.
The research team from the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centre in the US replaced damaged segments of urinary tubes (urethras) in a group of boys.
Tests to measure urine flow and tube diametre showed the engineered tissue remained functional throughout the six-year follow-up period, journal The Lancet reports.
"These findings suggest that engineered urethras can be used successfully in patients and may be an alternative to the current treatment, which has a high failure rate," said Anthony Atala, study author and paediatric urologic surgeon at the Wake Forest University.
"This is an example of how the strategies of tissue engineering can be applied to multiple tissues and organs," he added, according to a Wake Forest University statement.
Atala`s team used a similar approach to engineer replacement bladders implanted in nine children in 1998, becoming the first in the world to implant lab-grown organs in humans.
Researchers at the institute are currently working to engineer more than 30 different replacement tissues and organs.
Defective urethras can be the result of injury, disease or birth defects. While short defects in the tube are often easily repairable, larger defects can require a tissue graft, usually taken from skin or from the lining of the cheek.