Bone marrow cells helping regenerate bladder

Washington: Two specific cell populations, harvested from a patient`s healthy bone marrow, are helping pave the way to bladder regeneration, says a new study.

Cells from the bone marrow are being used to recreate the organ`s smooth muscle, vasculature, and nerve tissue, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

The research, led by Arun K Sharma, research assistant professor in urology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and colleagues, offers an alternative to current tissue-engineering strategies.

"We are manipulating a person`s own disease-free cells for bladder tissue reformation," said Sharma, member of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine, according to a Northwestern statement.

"We have used the spina bifida patient population as a proof of concept model because those patients typically have bladder dysfunction.

"However, this regeneration approach could be used for people suffering from a variety of bladder issues where the bone marrow micro-environment is deemed normal," added Sharma.

Spina bifida is a spinal cord disease; the nerves which carry messages between the bladder and the brain do not work properly, causing an inability to pass urine.

The most common surgical option, augmentation cystoplasty, involves placing a "patch" derived from an individual`s bowel over a part of the diseased organ in order to increase its size.

But the procedure remains problematic because the bowel tissue introduces long-term complications like the development of electrolyte imbalance and bladder cancer. Because Sharma`s procedure does not use bowel tissue, it offers the benefits of augmentation without long-term risks.