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New treatment to beat severe incontinence

Scientists have developed a potential treatment for severe incontinence that means the millions of sufferers worldwide could one day throw away their incontinence pads.

University of Melbourne scientists, who developed the technique, have now licensed the intellectual property to Continence Control Systems International P/L (CCS), an Australian company created to commercialise the technology that will address a worldwide potential market of more than A$1 billion per year.

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine from the bladder. The research team from three University departments (Anatomy, Zoology and Surgery) has found a way of creating a ring of muscle from the patient's own body and transplanting it to the bladder where it acts as a replacement sphincter. One of the causes of the most common type of urinary incontinence, known as stress incontinence, is when the sphincter muscle no longer dependably keeps urine in the bladder.

The replacement sphincter is controlled by an implanted electrical stimulator that should, for the first time, give sufferers of severe stress incontinence, a reliable method of passing urine only when they want. Under terms of an exclusive supply agreement with CCS, the necessary implanted technology will be provided by Cochlear Limited.

"The only surgical solutions available until now have involved prosthetic devices that have had problems with leakage, failure and adverse tissue reactions," says University of Melbourne's Professor John Furness and one of the inventors of the treatment.

"This treatment has the potential to revolutionise the management of severe urinary incontinence which afflicts tens of thousands of people worldwide. This is a miserable condition, and if not effectively managed, can result in people entering nursing homes or institutions because they are unable to cope," he says.

"The most common cause of a defective sphincter muscle is trauma to the area
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Contact: Jason Major
jmajor@unimelb.edu.au
61-38-344-0181
University of Melbourne
28-Oct-2003


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