April 24, 2009
An international team, led by scientists in California, report that they have successfully grown blood vessels for patients on kidney dialysis. Dialysis patients need a vessel, or shunt, to connect them to dialysis machines. Because dialysis is done regularly, an artificial vessel is often used, but these are prone to infection and inflammation. The scientists took a small skin sample from ten high-risk patients and grew sheets of cells in the lab, then rolled these up to form vessels appropriate for the shunt. Five patients had grafts functioning for dialysis 6-20 months after implantation. In the future, custom-produced blood vessels might be produced for patients with circulatory problems in their hearts or legs. Todd McAllister of Cytograft Tissue Engineering, which paid for the study, said "It's basically a piece of plumbing to bypass blockages."