Fecal incontinence affects approximately 5.5 million Americans, although actual number of people affected may be higher, due to low report rate. Prevalence of fecal incontinence varies by report with a range of 6-15% of women affected and 6-10% of men affected, with the incidence increasing with age. As there are various causes of fecal incontinence including constipation, loss of rectum storage capacity, diarrhea, and pelvic floor dysfunction, the treatment method depends on the cause and the severity. Surgical treatment including sphincter replacement or repair may be an option for patients who do not respond to treatments such as dietary restriction and biofeedback, and for those whose fecal incontinence is caused by injury to the pelvic floor, anal canal, or anal sphincter.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed innervated 3-dimensional bioengineered sphincter and 3-dimensional physiological models of smooth muscle cells via tissue engineering approach. The fibrin-based constructs of the invention provide the opportunity to test the effects of various pharmacological agents, growth factors, and mechanical interventions on smooth muscle function. The bioengineered sphincters provide a functional in vitro sphincter model that may be used to elucidate the mechanisms causing smooth myogenic sphincter malfunction as well as the investigation of treatments for disorders relating to sphincter dysfunction and/or weakening of smooth muscle contractile force. Moreover, this invention also provides methods of replacing a defective sphincter by implanting a bioengineered sphincter of the present invention in a mammal in need.
Applications and Advantages
- Sphincter replacement
- Model to study smooth myogenic sphincter malfunction and response to treatments
- Tissue engineering approach may preclude-nl-shortage of implants
- Innervated construct provides realistic response-nl-by the construct to investigative interventions