Replacement Organs and Tissues
Blood Vessel Research
Blood vessels developed in a laboratory could be used to replace diseased or damaged vessels. Imagine their use in bypass surgery: instead of harvesting a vessel from a patient's body, the vessel could be grown in a laboratory from the patient's own cells. In addition, laboratory-grown vessels could be used with dialysis patients. In most dialysis treatment cases, a fistula is created by surgically connecting an artery and vein in a patient's arm. However, creating a fistula is difficult in patients with diseased vessels. While synthetic vessels are an option, they are prone to infection and need to be replaced often. But a laboratory-grown vessel would resolve that problem.
How It Works
The engineered vessels we are creating are constructed using a tubular scaffold, the building block of the new vessel. A patient's own cells would be grown on the scaffold. The process starts with collecting a type of stem cell from a sample of a patient's blood. From these stem cells, endothelial cells are grown in the laboratory (the cells that line blood vessels and prevent clots). Once there are enough cells, the cells are placed on the scaffold and then engineered vessel is placed in a bioreactor system to acclimate it to the conditions of the body.
See this process in the video below:
A project to engineer human eggs in the lab for in vitro fertilization produres would benefit woman with premature ovary failure and other conditions that make pregnancy difficult.