The MUS.I.C. Consortium is funded by the Horizon 2020 program to examine the efficacy and safety of its new treatment approach for urinary incontinence patients. They transplant patient`s own muscle precursor cells from the lower leg into the sphincter of the bladder, followed by training of the pelvic floor. In parallel, new methods are being established within the consortium to make this approach even more efficient and affordable.
The funding from the EU commission allows the MUS.I.C. team to perform a clinical study in Zurich, including 40 female patients suffering from a mild form of incontinence. In this study, the researchers and urologists investigate whether the new therapeutic approach proves to be successful. Specialists from several countries and different medical and scientific disciplines have developed the methodology over the past 10 years. First, the safety, compatibility and effectiveness of the approach are being examined. Furthermore, optimizations are being carried out to: 1) facilitate the manufacture, 2) ensure a production, containing no animal derived components, and 3) develop a new cell-injection technique.
Provided the therapeutic approach is successful, it will greatly improve the quality of life of many patients. In Switzerland alone, approx. 400`000 people suffer from urinary incontinence. To a large extent, these are women whose bladder muscles are weakened by childbirth, or men who underwent a prostate operation. The currently available treatments counteract the symptoms, but they do not correct the weakened bladder-closing muscle. This is precisely the target-spot of our novel therapy, which aims to strengthen and regenerate the muscle sustainably.
Fresh cells for the
The therapy consists in repairing the bladder-closing muscle tissue with patient`s own muscle precursor cells. The whole treatment takes about 2.5 months. In a first step, the physicians obtain a small biopsy from the patient`s lower leg.
The muscle tissue sample has the size of half a sugar cube and derives from a practically non-functional muscle, which is an evolutionary relic.
The muscle precursor cells are extracted from the tissue and expanded for three to four weeks in the laboratory. Subsequently, the researchers mix the cells with the carrier substance collagen.
Finally, the physicians inject the cell-collagen mixture into the bladder-closing muscle of the patient. With the help of ultrasound, the urologists can exactly locate the tip of the needle during injection, which allows for a precise placing of the cells.
After the procedure the muscle regeneration of the bladder-closing muscle is further supported by electromagnetic stimulation. For this purpose, the patients will be treated during six weeks in a total of 12 sessions. During the treatments, for which the patients will be sitting on a chair specially developed for thispurpose, the patients feel only a slight tingling. Later, however, it can lead to muscle soreness. The urologists expect initial improvements in the quality of life of the patients approximately three months after the start of treatment.