The Kurzweil website brings to attention the work being done by a research team led by Anthony Atala, M.D., director of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centers Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Reportedly, the team was able to grow vaginal organs and implant them in human recipients. The vaginas, which were engineered out of the patients' own cells, have completely normal function.
This pilot study is the first to demonstrate that vaginal organs can be constructed in the lab and used successfully in humans, said Atala. This may represent a new option for patients who require vaginal reconstructive surgeries.
The teenage girls in the study were born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which the vagina and uterus are underdeveloped or absent. The treatment could also potentially be applied to patients with vaginal cancer or injuries, according to the researchers.
The girls were between 13 and 18 years old at the time of the surgeries, which were performed between June 2005 and October 2008. Data from annual follow-up visits show that even up to eight years after the surgeries, the organs had normal function.
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