Magazine article ASEE Prism

Brand-New Bladders

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Brand-New Bladders

Article excerpt

HUMAN organ transplants are a risky business. First of all, the body often rejects them. Moreover, available organs aren't easy to come by. More than 90,000 Americans are, at any given time, in need of a transplant; each day, 17 of them die because no organ was available. Anthony Atala, a pediatric urologist and tissue engineer at the Wake Forest University Medical Center, is working to remedy that problem with technology that lets humans grow their own replacement organs. In humans, his greatest success so far has been with bladders. Atala harvests the most basic of bladder cells from patients, urothelial cells, and cultures them inside a biodegradable scaffold that's bladder shaped and is implanted onto the unhealthy bladder. As the cells grow a new bladder, fed by blood vessels, the scaffold harmlessly disintegrates. …

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