Stem Cells Could Reverse Incontinence
Researchers report that stem cells have reversed bladder leakage in mice, and that the discovery could pave the way for new treatments against urinary incontinence.
The study, conducted at Kyungpook National University in South Korea, found that weakened pelvic-floor muscles in mice were repaired with stem cells made from amniotic fluid. The stem cells also kept the condition from recurring, even though the cells disappeared after 14 days in the body.
Urinary incontinence will affect one out of every three women after age 40. Although men may also have the condition, the frequency is much lower. Treatments for urinary incontinence include surgery, lifestyle changes like weight loss, and exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles.
Previously, stem cell therapy has been suggested as a possibility for treating urinary incontinence, but the only way to gather the cells was through invasive procedures. Collecting stem cells from amniotic fluid is easier during a routine procedure of amniocentesis.
"These stem cells ... have the ability to become muscle cells when grown under the right conditions," study leaders James Yoo and Tae Gyun Kwon said in a statement.
Testing on people, though, is needed to back up the researchers’ findings.
The study was published in the journal “BMC Medicine.”