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Doctor builds new, more natural vagina

By RobotGod     Aug 15, 2007 in Health
An Italian doctor has successfully reconstructed vaginas for two women born with a rare congenital deformation. For the first time, he uses their own cells to build vaginal tissue in the lab.
MSNBC is reporting that Dr. Cinzia Marchese of Rome’s Policlinico Umberto I hospital, says that a 28-year-old woman who underwent the first of these operations a year ago now has a healthy vagina.
“She has got married and is living a normal life,” said Marchese, whose study has been published in the journal Human Reproduction.
The second operation happened on Tuesday and was on a 17 year old girl. It looks like the cells taken by biopsy from the area on her vagina should grow and provide mucosal tissue. Mucosal tissue is found inside the vagina, as well as the mouth and other areas in the body and has important attributes that distinguish it from ordinary skin.
The condition that these women had is called Mayer-Von Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome, or MRKHS for short and it affects an estimated one in every 4,000 to 5,000 female infants.
They are born with no vagina. Often they have a normal uterus and ovaries as well as breasts, but can not have sex or give birth.
“Usually the syndrome is diagnosed when they are young and they try to have sexual intercourse for the first time and it hurts,” said Marchese.
Surgeons have been able to correct nature's mistake by reconstructing a vagina from grafted skin or from intestinal tissue. The surgery however, is highly invasive, lengthy and painful. And it takes a long time to grow a normal mucosal wall.
With this condition, if a woman has healthy ovaries she can still get pregnant by artificial insemination and use a surrogate mother to carry the fertilized eggs and give birth.
“What we do is to take a little biopsy of 0.5 cm from the place the vagina should be, “ Marchese said. They used an enzyme to break down the tissue and then let the immature cells, called stem cells, generate new, mucosal tissue on their own.
It takes roughly 15 days to get a thick enough layer to transplant into the patient.
Science and medicine continues to grow as well as grow by leaps and bounds. Women with this condition now have hope.
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