London: Off-the-shelf blood vessels could soon be a reality, as scientists have come up with a way to grow new human veins in the laboratory. The lab-made blood vessels, which can be stored for up toa year and safely transplanted into any patient, couldrevolutionise heart surgery, said the researchers behind thebreakthrough.
When the scaffold dissolves away, fully formed bloodvessels are left behind. These are then "washed" of theoriginal human cells so that they were completely benign andunlikely to cause any rejection in the body of a recipient,the researchers reported in the journal Science TranslationalMedicine. These vessels have already been tested on baboons andwere found to work by fully restoring blood flow. There wereno evidence of clogging or thickening when the grafts wereremoved after six months -- an indication that they would besuitable for long term transplantation. Thousands of people worldwide are diagnosed with heart orcirculatory disorders and they could potentially benefit fromthis new technology each year, the researchers said. "This new type of bioengineered vein allows them to beeasily stored in hospitals so they are readily available tosurgeons at the time of need," said study co-author Dr AlanKypson. "Currently, grafting using the patient`s own veinsremains the gold standard. But, harvesting a vein from thepatient`s leg can lead to complications, and for patients whodon`t have suitable veins, the bioengineered veins could serveas an important new way to provide a coronary bypass."Bypass surgery circumvents blocked arteries in the heartand body and, often using a blood vessel from another part ofthe patient`s body usually the leg. In a majority of patients, there is not a suitable bloodvessel and a synthetic one is used instead. But these canbecome clogged easily and cause serious infections. The new "bioengineered" veins appear to avoid thesecomplications. The new veins could also be used to help kidneydialysis patients whose own blood vessels become damaged bythe treatment, the researchers said. Shannon Dahl, lead author of the study, however, saidthere is still considerable research to be done before aproduct is available for widespread use. PTI
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