Researchers Use Human Cells to Engineer Functional Anal Sphincters in Lab

Researchers have built the first functional anal sphincters in the laboratory, suggesting a potential future treatment for both fecal and urinary incontinence. Made from muscle and nerve cells, the sphincters developed a blood supply and maintained function when implanted in mice. The results are reported in the medical journal Gastroenterology.

“In essence, we have built a replacement sphincter that we hope can one day benefit human patients. This is the first bioengineered sphincter made with both muscle and nerve cells, making it ‘pre-wired’ for placement in the body,” said senior author Khalil N. Bitar, Ph.D., a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Bitar performed the work when he was on the University of Michigan faculty and it included a colleague from Emory University.

Sphincters are ring-like muscles that maintain constriction of a body passage. There are numerous sphincters in the human body, Continue reading