London: Coming soon: "Off-the-shelf" veins and arteries, says an Indian-origin researcher-led team in UK which claims to have for the first time grown all three main types of cells that make up the walls of a blood vessel.
Dr Sanjay Sinha and colleagues at Cambridge University say that the breakthrough may pave the way for new live-saving treatments for a range of medical conditions like strokes and heart attacks.
In their research, the scientists claim that over the past four years they used patients` own skin cells to produce different types of vascular smooth muscle cells with 90 per cent efficacy, the `Daily Mail` reported.
"This research represents an important step towards being able to generate the right kind of smooth muscle cells to help construct these new blood vessels," Dr Sinha was quoted by the British newspaper as saying.
The team says it could potentially create blood vessels in a laboratory environment for surgeons to use in transplant operations instead of undertaking heart bypass treatments. So- called "test tube" blood vessels could also be used to treat kidney dialysis patients or trauma victims.
Dr Sinha added: "We are very excited about its potential. They could be used to build an artificial artery in a test tube or the stem cells could be injected straight into the heart and they could form within it."
A US-based biotechnology firm in California managed to grow whole blood vessels in a lab for the first time last June and implanted them into three kidney dialysis patients. But the Cambridge team says it`s the first to grow multiple types which could have more medical uses.
"One type of blood vessel will be not suitable for everything. We are looking at making arteries and now we have the tools to engineer all different types of blood vessels which are appropriate for each patient," Dr Sinha said.
Experts have hailed the findings published in the `Nature Biotechnology` journal.
Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "This is very technologically advanced as they have managed to grow more types of cells and there is the potential to scale it up."