The humble bladder is now the world's first bioengineered internal organ to work in people. Several years after surgery, seven young patients who received lab-grown bladders are doing just fine, according to a new report.
"Bladders are a complex organ," and bladder tissue is difficult to replace, says urologist Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
A bladder acts as a muscle to expel its contents, while having "natural elasticity" that limits fluid pressures on the bladder walls, Atala notes. Without that elasticity, high pressure could force fluids back into the kidneys, damaging those organs.