Bioengineering has conquered one of its greatest challenges yet. Medical engineers have finally created artificial blood vessels that grow with patients.
This can prevent the need for repeated surgeries on children
with heart defects.
The study, published in Nature Communications, records successful tests of implanting artificial blood vessels in young lambs that grow with them.
University of Minnesota professor Robert Tranquillo and his team used pre-natal donor's skin cells to minimize rejection
Not only does this remove the need to customized cell growth, this means the vessels can be stored instead, only to be implanted when needed.
Their trials with lambs showed the tube repopulated by the lamb's own cells.
The breakthrough could potentially mean children with heart defects will only need one surgery, and need no more while they grow up.
Artifical blood vessels 101: Making tubes
Tranquillo and his team combined sheep skin with a gelatinous material called fibrin. They gave it nutrients for cell growth and strengthened the tube.
The key, they said, is to make the artificial blood vessels stronger than an ordinary artery so it wouldn't burst inside the patient.
When implanted, the sheep's artificial blood vessels grew 56-percent after 50 weeks. There were no effects such as clotting, calcification or vessel narrowing.
Now Tranquillo and his team are talking with doctors about the feasibility of using this method for human clinical trials.
Good job, science! Now we are on our way to more medical discoveries and more amazing breakthroughs. What a time to be alive.
Source: University of Michigan