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Lab grown vaginas have been successfully implanted in patients

Harold Mandel's picture
Lab grown vagina

Women who are in need of vaginal reconstruction due to such problems as congenital abnormalities, injury, or cancer, should be pleased to learn of the success of implanting lab grown vaginas in patients. Vaginal reconstruction can be very challenging and the complications associated with the use of non-vaginal tissue raises concerns. The use of tissue-engineered autologous vaginal organs in patients is therefore a major breakthrough.

There is no doubt that reconstructive techniques for which non-vaginal tissue is used may be associated with complications, reports The Lancet. Researchers assessed the use of engineered vaginal organs in four patients who had vaginal aplasia which was caused by a disorder known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKHS).

The patients in this study were aged 13—18 years. The researchers obtained a vulvar biopsy of autologous tissue from each of the patients. They than cultured, expanded, and seeded epithelial and muscle cells onto biodegradable scaffolds.These organs were than constructed and allowed to mature in an incubator which was located in a facility which has been approved for human-tissue manufacturing. A perineal approach was used to surgically implant these organs. MRIs demonstrated the extent of the vaginal aplasia prior to surgery and the absence of abnormalities after surgery, as confirmed with yearly vaginoscopy. The patients conveyed variables in the normal range dealing with:

1: Sexual desire

2: Arousal

3: Lubrication

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4: Orgasm

5: Satisfaction

6: Painless intercourse

It was concluded that vaginal organs which were engineered from the patient's own cells and implanted demonstrated normal structural and functional variables with a follow-up of up to 8 years.
Clearly, these technologies could be useful for patients who require vaginal reconstruction.

Scientists have reported on the first human recipients of lab grown vaginal organs, reports Wake Forest School of Medicine. Anthony Atala, M.D., director of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and his research team have described the long-term success in four teenage girls who received vaginal organs which were engineered from their own cells.

Atala said, “This pilot study is the first to demonstrate that vaginal organs can be constructed in the lab and used successfully in humans.” Patients who need vaginal reconstructive surgeries now may have this new option. As noted, the girls in the study were born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome. This is a rare genetic condition in which the vagina and uterus are not developed well or are absent.

The treatment demonstrated in this study may also potentially be applied to patients suffering from vaginal cancer or injuries. The engineered vaginas were observed to be similar in makeup and function to native tissue. Furthermore, the patients’ responses to a Female Sexual Function Index questionnaire demonstrated that they all had normal sexual function after the treatment, which included desire and pain-free intercourse. The researchers said that with conventional treatments, the overall complication rate has been seen to be as high as 75 percent in pediatric patients. The
successful use of lab grown vaginas is therefore a significant breakthrough.

Clearly, the need for vaginal reconstructive surgery in a young girl can be very tension producing. This coupled with high complication rates with orthodox therapy is troubling. This new finding of the success of lab grown vaginas for such procedures should add new dimensions to not just medical but also psychological success with this intervention.