Congenital abnormalities, cancer, trauma, infection, inflammation, iatrogenic injuries, and other conditions may lead to genitourinary organ damage or loss, requiring eventual reconstruction. Tissue engineering follows the principles of cell transplantation, materials science, and engineering toward the development of biological substitutes that would restore and maintain normal function. Tissue engineering may involve matrices alone, wherein the body's natural ability to regenerate is used to orient or direct new tissue growth, or the use of matrices with cells. Both synthetic (polyglycolic acid polymer scaffolds alone and with co-polymers of poly-1-lactic acid and poly-DL-lactide-coglycolide) and natural biodegradable materials (processed collagen derived from allogeneic donor bladder submucosa and intestinal submucosa) have been used, either alone or as cell delivery vehicles. Tissue engineering has been applied experimentally for the reconstitution of several urologic tissues and organs, including bladder, ureter, urethra, kidney, testis, and genitalia. Fetal applications have also been explored. Recently, several tissue engineering technologies have been used clinically, including the use of cells as bulking agents for the treatment of vesicoureteral reflux and incontinence, urethral replacement, and bladder reconstruction. Recent progress suggests that engineered urologic tissues may have clinical applicability in the future.
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