Creating an organ – Dr. Yuanyuan Zhang, assistant professor at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, demonstrates the process used to engineer a vaginal organ. Zhang first selects a scaffold made of a biodegradable material.
Creating an organ – Zhang then coats one side of the scaffold with epithelial cells, isolated from a small biopsy of the patient's external genitals.
Creating an organ – The scaffold is then placed in an incubator that maintains optimal temperature, humidity, etc. for tissue growth and development. Cell media, which consists of nutrients to keep the cells alive, is added.
Creating an organ – Once it is removed from the incubator, Zhang coats the other side of the scaffold with smooth muscle cells taken from the patient's biopsy.
Creating an organ – The scaffold is then incubated for a second time.
Creating an organ – Zhang configures the scaffold into a vaginal shape so it can be implanted into the body after spending one more week in the incubator.
Creating an organ – This MRI image shows the lab-engineered vaginal organ inside the patient.