Stem cell findings may offer answers for some bladder defects and disease

By JoanneRUSSELL25

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:

21-Mar-2014

Contact: Charles Casey charles.casey@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu 916-734-9048 University of California - Davis Health System

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) For the first time, scientists have succeeded in coaxing laboratory cultures of human stem cells to develop into the specialized, unique cells needed to repair a patient's defective or diseased bladder.

The breakthrough, developed at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures and published today in the scientific journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, is significant because it provides a pathway to regenerate replacement bladder tissue for patients whose bladders are too small or do not function properly, such as children with spina bifida and adults with spinal cord injuries or bladder cancer.

"Our goal is to use human stem cells to regenerate tissue in the lab that can be transplanted into patients to augment or replace their malfunctioning bladders," said Eric Kurzrock, professor and chief of the division of pediatric urologic surgery at UC Davis Children's Hospital and lead scientist of the study, which is titled "Induction of Human Embryonic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells into Urothelium."

To develop the bladder cells, Kurzrock and his UC Davis colleagues investigated two categories of human stem cells. In their key experiments, they used induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), which were derived from lab cultures of human skin cells and umbilical blood cells that had been genetically reprogrammed to convert to an embryonic stem cell-like state.

If additional research demonstrates that grafts of bladder tissue grown from human stem cells will be safe and effective for patient care, Kurzrock said that the source of the grafts would be iPS cells derived from a patient's own skin or umbilical cord blood cells. This type of tissue would be optimal, he said, because it lowers the risk of immunological rejection that typifies most transplants.

In their investigation, Kurzrock and his colleagues developed a protocol to prod the pluripotent cells into becoming bladder cells. Their procedure was efficient and, most importantly, the cells proliferated over a long period of time a critical element in any tissue engineering application.

"What's exciting about this discovery is that it also opens up an array of opportunities using pluripotent cells," said Jan Nolta, professor and director of the UC Davis Stem Cell program and a co-author on the new study. "When we can reliably direct and differentiate pluripotent stem cells, we have more options to develop new and effective regenerative medicine therapies. The protocols we used to create bladder tissue also provide insight into other types of tissue regeneration."

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Stem cell findings may offer answers for some bladder defects and disease

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