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June 14, 2012

Ten-year-old girl gets vein grown from her stem cells

BBC News - A 10-year-old girl has had a major blood vessel in her body replaced with one grown with her own stem cells, Swedish doctors report.

She had poor blood flow between her intestines and liver.

A vein was taken from a dead man, stripped of its own cells and then bathed in stem cells from the girl

Surgeons said there was a "striking" improvement in her quality of life.

This is the latest in a series of body parts grown, or engineered, to match the tissue of the patient.

Last year, scientists created a synthetic windpipe and then coated it with a patient's stem cells.

Lancet - Transplantation of an allogeneic vein bioengineered with autologous stem cells: a proof-of-concept study


The process is known as "decellularisation". It starts with a donor vein which is then effectively put through a washing machine in which repeated cycles of enzymes and detergents break down and wash away the person's cells. It leaves behind a scaffold. This is then bathed in stem cells from the 10-year-old's bone marrow. The end product is a vein made from the girl's own cells.

The graft immediately provided the recipient with a functional blood supply (25—30 cm/s in the portal vein and 40 mL/s in the artery was measured intraoperatively and confirmed with ultrasound). The patient had normal laboratory values for 9 months. However, at 1 year the blood flow was low and, on exploration, the shunt was patent but too narrow due to mechanical obstruction of tissue in the mesocolon. Once the tissue causing the compression was removed the graft dilated. We therefore used a second stem-cell populated vein graft to lengthen the previous graft. After this second operation, the portal pressure was reduced from 20 mm Hg to 13 mm Hg and blood flow was 25—40 cm/s in the portal vein. With restored portal circulation the patient has substantially improved physical and mental function and growth. The patient has no anti-endothelial cell antibodies and is receiving no immunosuppressive drugs.


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