A Step Toward Custom-Built Blood Vessels

July 17, 2013
Lab-grown blood vessel picture

Lab-grown human blood vessel networks (red) incorporating into and around mouse networks (green)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have coaxed stem cells into forming networks of new blood vessels in the laboratory, then successfully transplanted them into mice.

The stem cells are made by reprogramming ordinary cells, so the new technique could potentially be used to make blood vessels genetically matched to individual patients and unlikely to be rejected by their immune systems, the investigators say. The results appear online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In demonstrating the ability to rebuild a microvascular bed in a clinically relevant manner, we have made an important step toward the construction of blood vessels for therapeutic use,” says Sharon Gerecht, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Johns Hopkins University Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Physical Sciences–Oncology Center and Institute for NanoBioTechnology.

Gerecht’s research group and others had previously grown blood vessels in the laboratory using stem cells, but barriers remain to efficiently producing the vessels and using them to treat patients.

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