WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
Oct. 3, 2007 -- Here's a scientific first: the creation of new blood vessels
from patients' own cells.
That tissue-engineering development could one day help people with blood
vessel problems, but the process isn't ready for prime time.
The developers describe their early tests in The New England Journal of
First, they gathered cells from the skins and blood vessels of 10 adults
with end-stage renal (kidney) disease.
Next, the scientists put those cells in test tubes (keeping each patient's
cells separate from the other patients' cells) and coaxed those cells to grow
into blood vessels.
After making sure that the lab-made blood vessels wouldn’t burst under
expected conditions, the researchers implanted the tailor-made blood vessels
into the patients.
So far, results are available for the first six patients, who got their
tissue-engineered blood vessels more than a year ago.
One of those patients died of unrelated causes. The lab-made blood vessel
failed in another patient.
A third patient used the lab-made blood vessel for more than 13 months until
receiving a kidney transplant. The three other patients haven't had any
problems with their engineered blood vessels.
Those early results show that "this new approach may be feasible,"
write the scientists.
They included Nicolas L'Heureux, PhD, and Todd McAllister, PhD, who work for
and hold stock in Cytograft Tissue Engineering of Novato, Calif.
(Would you try a new "bionic" procedure if offered to you? How
far would you go? Chat about it with others on WebMD's Health
Café message board.)
SOURCES: L'Heureux, N. The New England Journal of Medicine, Oct. 4,
2007; vol 357: pp 1452-1453.
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