UC Davis Stem-Cell Researchers Findings May Offer Answers for Some Bladder Defects and Disease

By LizaAVILA

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) March 21, 2014

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 patients 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 patients 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.

Whats 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.

UC Davis researchers first used human embryonic stem cells obtained from the National Institutes of Healths repository of human stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can become any cell type in the body (i.e., they are pluripotent), and the team successfully coaxed these embryonic stem cells into bladder cells. They then used the same protocol to coax iPS cells made from skin and umbilical cord blood into bladder cells, called urothelium, that line the inside of the bladder. The cells expressed a very unique protein and marker of bladder cells called uroplakin, which makes the bladder impermeable to toxins in the urine.

The UC Davis researchers adjusted the culture system in which the stem cells were developing to encourage the cells to proliferate, differentiate and express the bladder protein without depending upon signals from other human cells, said Kurzrock. In future research, Kurzrock and his colleagues plan to modify the laboratory cultures so that they will not need animal and human products, which will allow use of the cells in patients.

See the article here:
UC Davis Stem-Cell Researchers Findings May Offer Answers for Some Bladder Defects and Disease

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