In key advance, U team builds blood vessel that grows with body
In a scientific first, biomedical researchers at the University of Minnesota have implanted a section of dead blood vessel in an animal and then watched as it turned into living tissue that grew along with the host’s body for a year.
A team led by U professor Robert Tranquillo said the breakthrough, published Tuesday, could be used to graft tiny sections of lab-grown blood vessels in place of defective arteries in children. Since the grafts would be able to grow inside kids’ bodies just like normal tissue, they could eliminate risky and expensive surgeries that kids with congenital heart defects face later in life.
Just as a pair of jeans doesn’t fit a growing kid after a couple of years, a blood-vessel graft made from plastic or cadaver tissue becomes too small over time — unless it can grow along with the rest of the body. More than 1,000 children a year in the U.S. with heart defects could benefit from such a growing graft.