[Regenerative medicine: applications and development in urology.]
PURPOSE. Congenital abnormalities and acquired disorders can lead to organ damage and loss. Nowadays, transplantation represents the only effective treatment option. However, there is a marked decrease in the number of organ donors, which is even yearly worsening due to the population aging. The regenerative medicine represents a realistic option that allows to restore and maintain the normal functions of tissues and organs. This article reviews the principles of regenerative medicine and the recent advances with regard to its application to the genitourinary tract. RECENT FINDINGS. The field of regenerative medicine involves different areas of technology, such as tissue engineering, stem cells and cloning. Tissue engineering involves the field of cell transplantation, materials science and engineering in order to create functional replacement tissues. Stem cells and cloning permit the extraction of pluripotent, embryonic stem cells offering a potentially limitless source of cells for tissue engineering applications. Most current strategies for tissue engineering depend upon a sample of autologous cells from the patient's diseased organ. Biopsies from patients with extensive end-stage organ failure, however, may not yield enough normal cells. In these situations, stem cells are envisaged as being an alternative source. Stem cells can be derived from discarded human embryos (human embryonic stem cells), from fetal tissue or from adult sources (bone marrow, fat, skin). Therapeutic cloning offers a potentially limitless source of cells for tissue engineering applications. Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering scientists have increasingly applied the principles of cell transplantation, materials science and bioengineering to construct biological substitutes that will restore and maintain normal function in urological diseased and injured tissues such as kidney, ureter, bladder, urethra and penis. CONCLUSIONS. Regenerative medicine offers several applications in acquired and congenital genito-urinary diseases. Tissue engineering, stem cells and, mostly, cloning have been applied in experimental studies with excellent results. Few preliminary human applications have been developed with promising results.