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11 April 2014

Doctors implant lab-grown vagina

Four women have had new vaginas grown in the laboratory and implanted by doctors in the US.

A tissue sample and a biodegradable scaffold were used to grow vaginas in the right size and shape for each woman as well as being a tissue match.

They all reported normal levels of “desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction” and painless intercourse.

Experts said the study, published in the Lancet, was the latest example of the power of regenerative medicine.

‘I feel fortunate’
In each woman the vagina did not form properly while they were still inside their mother’s womb, a condition known as vaginal aplasia.

Current treatments can involve surgically creating a cavity, which is then lined with skin grafts or parts of the intestine.

Doctors at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in North Carolina used pioneering technology to build vaginas for the four women who were all in their teenage years at the time.

Scans of the pelvic region were used to design a tube like 3D-scaffold for each patient.

A small tissue biopsy was taken from the poorly developed vulva and grown to create a large batch of cells in the laboratory.

‘An important thing’
All the women reported normal sexual function.

Vaginal aplasia can lead to other abnormalities in the reproductive organs, but in two of the women the vagina was connected to the uterus.

There have been no pregnancies, but for those women it is theoretically possible.

By James Gallagher

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