According to an article from rdmag.com, a new form of treatment could allow for organ tissue to regrow to a normal level in patients with conditions in which organs are stunted or otherwise reduced in size. The conditions include long-gap esophogeal atresia (a birth defect in which part of the esophagus fails to develop) and short bowel syndrome.
Short bowel syndrome can be caused by a surgical procedure in which an infected or cancerous portion of the bowel is removed or by necrotizing enterocolitis, in which a portion of the bowel dies (most common in newborns that were born prematurely). Some people are also born with an unusually short intestine. To learn more about short bowel syndrome, click here.
A motorized device is attached to the organ tissue with two rings. The machinery is secured by sutures so that the patient can move freely. The machinery applies traction to the organ in order to stimulate the growth of new tissue. The organ is not merely being stretched as new cells are actively being created. The device can be controlled with a remote that ensures that the tissues grows in the correct place. The new treatment was tested on pigs. The animals did not appear to be noticeably harmed by the device and they were able to continue eating normally. The esophagus tissue was 77% longer on average after only ten days.
The new device would be a substantial improvement in treatment for esophogeal atresia. Current treatments require a period of some weeks in a medically induced coma so that the organ doesn’t tear. This necessity can produce some unpleasant risks and the new treatment would not require immobilization. The researchers are optimistic that the device can also be used to regrow tissue in those with short bowel syndrome. Short bowel syndrome is a more common condition than can cause liver failure and other major problems in severe cases.
While more testing will definitely be necessary before the implants are able to be put to regular use, the device would offer a much more patient friendly way to stimulate the growth of tubular organs within the body. The researchers plan to begin more trials to assess the implant’s viability in treating short bowel syndrome.