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Vaginal organs, grown in labs, successfully implanted in girls

Vaginas and vaginal tissues are being grown in laboratories and implanted in girls.
Fort Form/flickr

Vaginas and vaginal organs are now being grown in laboratories. They are being implanted in girls that were born with a rare genetic disorder. According to a report on Friday, April 11, from Engadget, this was the very first time that laboratory-grown vaginas and vaginal tissues have ever been implanted in human beings.

The girls who received the transplants were born with the rare genetic disorder known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH). This disorders results in the vagina and uterus not being fully developed. In some cases, the vagina and uterus are missing completely. These girls were between the ages of 13 and 18.

The girls received their vaginal transplants eight years ago. The laboratory-grown vaginas and vaginal tissues are still continuing to function normally. According to Anthony Atala, M.D., the doctor who led the research believes that his could “represent a new option” for girls who are born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser and need vaginal reconstructive surgeries.

In an April 10 report by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, it was stated that the vaginal implants could also be used for women with vaginal cancer or vaginal injuries. This study is an example of how “regenerative medicine strategies” can be applied. It is expected that more organs and tissues will be grown in laboratories.

The vaginal implant surgeries were done at the HIMFG Tissue Engineering Laboratory at the MRKH in Mexico City. Those surgeries took place between June 2005 and October 2008. At the time of publication is was unknown exactly how many girls underwent the vagina transplants.

So far, the laboratory-grown vaginas are functioning normally. The engineered organs and tissues are allowing normal sexual function. That included desire and pain-free intercourse.

The organs and tissues are created from a biopsy of each of the patient's external genitals. They were placed in biodegradable material that were shaped like vaginas. These were hand-sewn and made to fit each individual patient. Follow-up testing has shown that the differences in the laboratory-grown vaginas and vaginal tissue and “native tissue” was could not be distinguished.

Before attempting to grow vaginas and vaginal tissues in a laboratory for humans, it was first tested on mice. Vaginas and vaginal tissues were also grown for rabbits in the tests.

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