The world’s urologists have shared the latest developments in their field at the recent AUA conference. Among the topics presented in New Orleans was a session on stem cell research and new regenerative developments. Although there was nothing specific to the foreskin, there was research showing how regenerative techniques had been applied to urological problems.
The bladder proved to be a key area of research. An experimental study in rats was undertaken for regeneration of the bladder muscle wall using a decellularized colon matrix. Three months after the operation, the region of the graft was indistinguishable from the natural bladder. These results suggest decellularized colon could be a reliable natural collagen scaffold and viable material for bladder augmentation.
In other research, bone marrow stem cells were found to be a promising cell source in bladder tissue engineering, especially for improving tissue angiogenesis - the process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels.
Gene manipulation was also attempted for bladder augmentation. The Wnt-5a gene is known to play a critical role in embryo development and possibly in angiogenesis, muscle and nerve regeneration. Stem cells were genetically modified to overexpress this gene and seeded on a synthetic scaffold. Results found marked improvements in angiogenesis, and muscle, nerve, and urothelium regeneration.
Human urethra was also regenerated using a newly developed scaffold-free 3D biofabrication system. This technology, researchers say, will enable the development of a wide range of cell-products for restoring tissues and urological organs from living cells safely and efficiently.
Although the research presented at the conference is not directly related to the foreskin, it does show a promising interest in regeneration, particularly from urologists. The time is ripe for interest to turn to regenerating the foreskin.