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 Medicine.
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.
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