Promising Approach to Urinary Bladder Tissue Regeneration

February 09, 2021

Bone marrow cells and a biodegradable scaffold produce functional bladder tissue in a small animal model

Scientists from Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago were able to regenerate functional urinary bladder tissue in a rodent model using human bone marrow derived stem and progenitor cells. Their findings, published in Scientific Reports, offer great promise to children suffering from end stage bladder dysfunction, for whom surgery carries significant risks.

Building upon previous studies, Arun Sharma, PhD, and colleagues varied the seeding densities of two distinct types of bone marrow cells – those that can differentiate into muscle (mesenchymal stem cells) and those that form blood vessels and aid in nerve cell growth (hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells) – and co-seeded them onto a flexible, biodegradable scaffold. They found that the differing cell densities affected different aspects of bladder tissue regeneration that subsequently produced tissue that recapitulated native bladder tissue.

“We are targeting the pediatric spina bifida population with our bladder regeneration work,” said senior author Dr. Sharma, Director of Urological Regenerative Medicine at the Manne Research Institute at Lurie Children’s and Research Associate Professor of Urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We need to offer a better alternative to bladder augmentation surgery for end stage bladder disease in these children. Currently, small intestine tissue is used to replace dysfunctional bladder tissue, but that increases the risk of numerous clinical complications. Our approach is promising to make a great difference in the lives of these children.”

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year, the hospital served more than 220,000 children from 48 states and 49 countries.