Scientists have succeeded in producing fully effective blood vessels that can be grafted onto human beings. From samples of blood, the scientists have made blood vessels that were later incorported into the vascular system of three children. The method has proved to be safe and effective such that millions around the globe suffering from vascular diseases might have renewed hope.
The red liquid symbol of life, blood, drains our organs as it flows through countless tubes arranged all across our body. The blood vessels serves as passageways for the liquid to reach all the given body parts. However, if a fundamental blood vessel is missing, or impaired, the very life of the person might be at risk.
Vascular diseases affect approximately 25 million of people from different parts of the world. Some people are afflicted with health problems where they have a critical vein missing. The new research that has also been validated will now serve as a solution to such patients.
Three years ago, researcher Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson and surgeon Michael Olausson produced a new blood vessel for a patient who had the vein linking the alimentary canal to the liver missing. The two scientists had grown the vessel from stem cells obtained from the same patient so that the latter’s immune system would not interfere with the grafting. To harvest the ‘mother’ cells, the researchers had to dig into the bone marrow of the person – a tedious procedure, which is also specially painful. Growing the blood vessel therefore took a long amount of time.
In an attempt to finding an alternative, the two researchers then decided to obtain the stem cells from the blood itself. So, 25 mL of blood was taken from three kids for the new study; the three children also had the same deficiency as the first patient with the missing vein. It was then found that growing personalised blood vessels from the blood samples was much easier as it took less time. The process was also accelerated because of the presence of growth-promoting substances already found in blood. The veins thus made were then grafted into the three children. As a result of the transplant, the children had their gastrointestinal tract interacting with their liver efficiently as it would under normal circumstances. Two of them recovered, and are doing just fine, while the thirs one is still under observation.
“We believe that this technological process can lead to dissemination of the method for the benefit of additional groups of patients, such as those with varicose veins or myocardial infarction, who need new blood vessels,” said Sumitran-Holgersson. “Our dream is to be able to grow complete organs as a way of overcoming the current shortage from donors.”