Patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery need implants of new, healthy blood vessels. So do those who receive repeated hemodialysis due to kidney failure. The best option is to use the patient’s own veins or arteries, but thousands of patients don’t have resources available in their own bodies.
Now, scientists have demonstrated ready-to-use, bioengineered blood vessels made from human cells. The work appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine. ["Readily Available Tissue-Engineered Vascular Grafts"]
Lead author Shannon Dahl explained on the journal’s podcast: “We start out with human cells from a donor. And we seed these cells onto a degradable polymeric scaffold…the cells proliferate and secrete extracellular matrix proteins, which are the proteins in your tissues that give your tissues strength. And during the time of culture, the polymer degrades away. The polymer that we use is actually the same type of polymer that’s used in degradable sutures.”
What’s left is a functional blood vessel. The implants should not trigger an immune response, getting rid of one potential problem for recipients. And the vessels can be stored for up to a year, so clinics could keep a supply of spare arteries and veins.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]