The world’s first artificial sphincters have been successfully grown and transplanted into mice. This new technique uses a circular mold in which human muscle cells grow along side nerve gut cells of mice. The man leading this research is Khalil Bitar of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Bitar is currently doing testing on some larger animals and hopes to begin testing in humans in as little as three to five years.
“Bitar says that the sphincter he has made wouldn’t replace the outer anal sphincter – the one healthy people control voluntarily – but the inner one, which operates involuntarily. Current treatments include reconstruction using muscle from limbs, electrical stimulation of sacral nerves, mechanical replacements and pumps – but Bitar says these are fraught with complications and failures.”
The goal of this research is not only to be able to solve bowel incontinence issues in the elderly or people who have sustained damage to their anal sphincter, but to also be able to make other important sphincters in the body.