Jan 162012
Diagram of blood vessels in the human arm.

Image via Wikipedia

Could potentially revolutionise treatment for range of conditions

A medical breakthrough by British scientists to grow “off the shelf” veins and arteries, which could potentially revolutionise treatment for range of conditions, has been hailed.

Researchers from Cambridge University have reportedly managed to grow all three main types of cells in a laboratory that make up the walls of a blood vessel.

Working over the past four years they used patients’ own skin cells to manufacture different types of vascular smooth muscle cells.

In a study, published in Nature Biotechnology, they said their technique was 90 per cent effective in tests and would be suitable for producing blood vessels on an industrial scale.

Medical experts hailed the breakthrough, which they say could help in developing life-saving treatments for conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.

Scientists could potentially create blood vessels in a laboratory environment for surgeons to use in transplant operations instead of undertaking riskier heart bypass treatments.

So-called “test tube” blood vessels could also be used to treat kidney dialysis patients or trauma victims.

About one in three deaths in Britain is caused by cardiovascular disease, due to blood vessels narrowing or becoming blocked by fatty deposits.

Dr Sanjay Sinha, who led the team, said the breakthrough could revolutionise medicine, the Daily Mail reported.

“This research represents an important step towards being able to generate the right kind of smooth muscle cells to help construct these new blood vessels,” he said.

“We are very excited about its potential. They could be used to build an artificial artery in a test tube or the stem cells could be injected straight into the heart and they could form within it.”

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