Artificial Arteries Might Aid Bypass Patients

The lab-grown vessels are working well in rats, researchers say

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FRIDAY, June 15, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers have developed artificial blood vessels that could help ease the demand for new sources of grafts in patients with heart and kidney disease.

A team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine engineered the artificial blood vessels by "seeding" muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) inside a biodegradable, porous, tubular polyester urethane scaffold. The vessels were cultured for seven days and then implanted in the abdominal aortas of rats.

When examined eight weeks after implantation, the grafted blood vessels had a high blockage-free rate and exhibited tissue formation consistent with a mature artery, the researchers said.

Their findings were presented this week at the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society's North America Chapter meeting in Toronto.

The researchers said their results demonstrated the feasibility of the technology for use in humans.

"The next step is to demonstrate the use of the tissue-engineered blood vessel in a larger animal model, such as a pig, which has a coagulation system more similar to that in humans," research team leader David A. Vorp, associate professor of surgery and bioengineering, said in a prepared statement.

"The advantage of our approach is that the graft could utilize the patient's own stem cells and be ready for implantation almost immediately or, at most, after a relatively short culture period. This suggests that we could make these available "off-the-shelf," which is an essential element for clinical translation," said Vorp, who is also a faculty member of the university's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Currently, veins taken from the patient's leg are most common source of coronary artery bypass grafting, even though many vein grafts eventually fail. Arterial grafts are preferred, because they're less likely to become obstructed. However, arterial grafts are in short supply, because many patients require multiple grafts, according to background information in a news release about the study.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about coronary artery bypass grafting.

SOURCE: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, news release, June 15, 2007

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