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Scientists identify candidate adult bladder stem cells

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Researchers at the University of California Davis Children’s Hospital have identified the potential stem cells that become the bladder, adding to the body of research that already has identified stem cells that can regenerate many of the body’s other organs.

Researchers at the University of California Davis Children’s Hospital have identified the potential stem cells that become the bladder, adding to the body of research that already has identified stem cells that can regenerate many of the body’s other organs.

The finding, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Renal (2008; 294:F1415-21), is significant because it raises the hope that scientists may one day regenerate replacement bladder tissue for patients whose bladders are too small or do not function properly, such as children with spina bifida and adults with spinal cord injuries or bladder cancer.

”This is the first time that candidate adult stem cells of the lining of the bladder have been identified,” said Eric Kurzrock, MD, lead author of the study. “The main thing that we’ve done is characterized some of the protein expression on the outside of these cells and defined what they look like and how they are different from other cells of the bladder.”

The cells are good candidates for urothelial stem cells, according to the authors, in part because they were found to have many of the qualities of stem cells discovered in other organs: They demonstrate superior clonogenic and proliferative abilities.

“Label-retaining cells have been identified as the tissue stem cells in skin, cornea, intestine, and prostate,” the authors wrote. “We propose that label-retaining cells represent putative urothelial (bladder) stem cells.”

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