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Researchers use stem cells to fight silent epidemic

August 02, 2018

A new potential treatment using stem cells could reduce the need for surgery for women with pelvic organ prolapse. Described as a silent epidemic, the condition affects an estimated one in four women, with up to 19 per cent of Australian women requiring surgery for prolapse over their lifetime.

Exciting research from a Professor Caroline Gargett, led by Prof Caroline Gargett, who is also a member of our Board.

Stem cells—combined with a biomaterial growing environment they need—may offer an alternative treatment for the one-in-four women affected by pelvic organ prolapse.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a lifelong and potentially debilitating ‘silent epidemic’, mainly caused by the tissue damage experienced by mothers during childbirth and worsened by ageing. It was previously treated using transvaginal mesh implants, which were banned last year because of the risks to patients.

Caroline Gargett and her colleagues at Hudson Institute of Medical Research hope that stem cells from a woman’s own uterus combined with nanobiomaterials (biodegradable materials engineered on the nanoscale) will provide a safer, more effective treatment for pelvic organ prolapse as well as a non-surgical therapy soon after childbirth to prevent future prolapse.

The new approach is currently being trialled in animals. The research team hopes to start clinical trials in three to five years.

Read more:

Listen to an interview with Professor Caroline Gargett on ABC BabyTalk

Stem cell image: Claire Homan, with thanks to ASSCR.

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