Washington: Damaged or diseased organs could be healed with an injection of blood vessel cells, which may eliminate the need for donated organs and transplants in future, researchers have claimed.
In the studies, the researchers show that endothelial cells-the cells that make up the structure of blood vessels-are powerful biological machines that drive regeneration in organ tissues by releasing beneficial, organ-specific molecules.
They discovered this by decoding the entirety of active genes in endothelial cells, revealing hundreds of known genes that had never been associated with these cells.
The researchers also found that organs dictate the structure and function of their own blood vessels, including the repair molecules they secrete.
Shahin Rafii, M.D., a professor of genetic medicine and co-director of the medical college's Ansary Stem Cell Institute and Tri-SCI Stem Center, said that together, the studies show that endothelial cells and the organs they are transplanted into work together to repair damage and restore function, says the study's lead investigator.
Rafii, who is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said that their work suggests that that an infusion of engineered endothelial cells could engraft into injured tissue and acquire the capacity to repair the organ.
He said that these studies - along with the first molecular atlas of organ-specific blood vessel cells reported in the Developmental Cell paper-will open up a whole new chapter in translational vascular medicine and will have major therapeutic application.
The 2 studies have been published in Stem Cell Journal and Developmental Cell.