Tissue Engineering

Johns Hopkins Medical Institution

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins Greenberg Bladder Cancer Institute, directed by oncology and urology surgeon Trinity Bivalacqua, have created a novel tube to empty urine from the body. The tube, for patients who have had their bladders removed as part of treatment for bladder cancer and other conditions, is grown from each patient’s own cells.

A few weeks before surgery, a sample of fat tissue is removed from the patient’s abdomen. Smooth muscle cells are then isolated from the sample in a lab and grown on a biodegradable scaffold. Within four weeks, a tube, called a neo-urinary conduit, is available for surgical implantation in the patient. One end of the tube is attached to the ureters; the other is attached to a small opening in the abdomen. Urine can then flow from the body through the tube and exit the skin into a disposable bag. Following surgical implantation, the body generates native-like urinary tissue.

This process provides an alternative to other types of conduits that typically are created from a section of a patient’s bowel, decreasing the risk of surgical complications and infection.

Eight patients were implanted with the neo-urinary conduit in a phase I trial. Results will be published soon. The team has started a phase II trial of the conduit in additional patients.