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Injecting stem cells from a woman's own muscle may effectively treat urinary incontinence

ATLANTA, May 21 In the first clinical study of its kind in North America, women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) were treated using muscle-derived stem cell injections to strengthen deficient sphincter muscles responsible for the condition. Results of the study, led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, suggest that the approach is safe, improves patients' quality of life and may be an effective treatment for SUI. The findings will be presented at an experts' session at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in Atlanta, and will be published in abstract 1185 in the AUA proceedings.

"The technique to achieve optimal efficacy is evolving, but we are pleased with what this study has shown," said principal investigator Lesley Carr, M.D., urologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. "We now have preliminary evidence that stem cells are safe to use and appear to improve female stress urinary incontinence."

Previous studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in animal models with SUI demonstrated that injecting stem cells into the urethral muscles increases leak point pressure, leading to a restoration of the deficient muscles. The results of these studies formed the basis for the clinical trial.

"Our preliminary findings in this clinical trial are extremely encouraging, given that 13 million people, most of them women, cope with stress urinary incontinence in the United States," said Michael B. Chancellor, M.D., the study's senior author and professor of urology and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We're demonstrating for the first time that we may be able to offer people with SUI a long-term and minimally invasive treatment."

In the study, researchers took biopsies of skeletal muscle tissue from seven female patients and isolated
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