Betting on Better Organs


Will you soon be able to buy your own bladder?

By Alison McCook

Related Articles

1 Patients are left with less tissue to function as intestine, which can complicate things even further. Some studies have also linked the procedure to a slightly higher risk of cancer.

Performing this procedure in older adults, who have relatively fewer years left to develop complications, is one thing. But what about the children who could live with jerry-rigged bladders for decades? This is a question Anthony Atala asked himself as a surgical resident training in pediatric urology. "These children had an 80-year life expectancy," he says. "They are going to have a lot of problems."

The ideal solution, Atala reasoned, was to provide children with new tissue from their bladders, not their intestines. This meant growing a vast amount of new, autologous bladder cells. In 1990, out of...

1. S.M. Gilbert, T.W. Hensle, "Metabolic consequences and long-term complications of enterocystoplasty in children: A review," J Urol, 173:1080-6, 2005.
2. F. Oberpenning et al., "De novo reconstitution of a functional mammalian urinary bladder by tissue engineering," Nat Biotechnol, 17:149-55, 1999.
3. A. Atala et al., "Tissue-engineered autologous bladders for patients needing cystoplasty," Lancet, 367:1241-6, 2006.
4. R. Lanza, R. Langer, J. Vacanti, eds, Principles of Tissue Engineering, 3rd ed., Elsevier Academic Press, 2007.

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?