Science Fiction Meets Reality: Lab-Grown Blood Vessels Help Diabetic Patients

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Science Fiction Meets Reality: Lab-Grown Blood Vessels Help Diabetic Patients

Scientists are constantly rising to the challenge when it comes medical mysteries and obstacles, devising new procedures and processes previously offered from the minds of sci-fi authors.

Growing skin grafts for burn patients, implanting heart replacement parts from pigs, transplanting whole faces, and now, engineering  whole new blood vessels in a lab to be implanted in diabetic dialysis patients




New research, presented today at the Emerging Science Series webinar sponsored by the American Heart Association, allowed for the creation of blood vessels fashioned from donor skin cells. Cytograft Tissue Engineering Inc. was able to grow the skin cells into sheets, which were then formed into vessels around an artificial support. The process requires two months of lab time for the vessels to be fully formed and functional for human implantation.

Three patients from Poland received these laboratory-grown vessels, which were implanted into their arms and linked an artery to a vein. All three patients were without quality arm veins that were needed for dialysis. Prior to the procedure, dialysis was performed using a catheter in the groin.

The implanted vessels, used over a period of eight months, performed extremely well, with only one incident out of over 1,000 sticks. All three patients continue to use the engineered vessels for regular dialysis with no change to the structure of the implants. 

According to the report, End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is one of the most costly chronic diseases in the industrialized world. In the U.S., more than $27 billion is expended annually for the care of 400,000 dialysis patients. Creation and maintenance of access shunts is one of the principal challenges associated with dialysis, and accounts for 15% of all ESRD-related expenses.

The implanted vessels could save considerable money over time, with an estimated cost of $6,000 to $10,000 per graft.

This small study has paved the way for a larger one, to be conducted in 40 individuals. Currently the second stage study will take place in Europe. Once completed, and if the results warrant it, Cytograft Tissue Engineering Inc., located in California, will begin a study in the U.S. to gain FDA approval for the procedure.

“The grafts also have the potential to be used in lower limb bypass to route blood around diseased arteries, to repair congenital heart defects in pediatric patients and to fix damaged arteries in soldiers, who might otherwise lose a limb,” said lead author Todd N. McAllister, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of Cytograft.

Wednesday 16:30 27/02/2013


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