Oct. 3, 2007 — Here’s a scientific first: the creation of new blood vesselsfrom patients’ own cells.
That tissue-engineering development could one day help people with bloodvessel problems, but the process isn’t ready for prime time.
The developers describe their early tests in The New England Journal ofMedicine.
First, they gathered cells from the skins and blood vessels of 10 adultswith end-stage renal (kidney) disease.
Next, the scientists put those cells in test tubes (keeping each patient’scells separate from the other patients’ cells) and coaxed those cells to growinto blood vessels.
After making sure that the lab-made blood vessels wouldn’t burst underexpected conditions, the researchers implanted the tailor-made blood vesselsinto the patients.
So far, results are available for the first six patients, who got theirtissue-engineered blood vessels more than a year ago.
One of those patients died of unrelated causes. The lab-made blood vesselfailed in another patient.
A third patient used the lab-made blood vessel for more than 13 months untilreceiving a kidney transplant. The three other patients haven’t had anyproblems 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 forand hold stock in Cytograft Tissue Engineering of Novato, Calif.
(Would you try a new “bionic” procedure if offered to you? Howfar would you go? Chat about it with others on WebMD’s HealthCafé message board.)