(07/24/13) - A breakthrough may make it possible to grow new colon and other
parts of the gastrointestinal tract. This could mean not only longer life, but
better quality of life for children born with gastrointestinal defects.
"I was so scared. I didn't know what was going to happen," says Stacy Lara.
At 18 weeks pregnant, Stacy was told something was terribly wrong with her son, "he had quite a bit of bowel outside of his abdomen."
Nathan had a birth defect that caused his intestine to grow outside of his body.
"He really only has a few inches of intestines, whereas baby this age would normally have maybe six-to-eight feet of intestine," says Dr. Russ Merritt of Children's Hospital, Los Angeles.
For Nathan, that means a lifetime of being fed through a tube or a transplant, but Dr. Tracy Grikscheit hopes a discovery in her Children's Hospital lab can change the prognosis for Nathan and other children like him.
"We've been able to show that we can make every part of the gastrointestinal tract. We can make esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon," Grikscheit says.
After children have surgery, doctors take tissue from the waste left over and then re-grow the cells in the lab. Within months, an organ can be made.
Grikscheit says it would eliminate risk of organ rejection and a lifetime of medication, "if we were able to make engineered intestine from your own cells, it would be part of you, grow with you. It would self repair."
A medical breakthrough that could have patients healing themselves. You can learn more about this research HERE.
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