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Heart Blood Vessels Grown in the Lab — Could Offer A Future Alternative To Bypass Surgery

Posted Jul 21 2008 10:07am

Researchers say they have grown in mice the kind of functioning heart blood vessels that cardiac surgeons create with bypass operations.

One ultimate goal is to replace some heart surgery with injections of laboratory-grown cells that would establish themselves in the body, providing a system of blood vessels for damaged hearts that need more oxygen, said Juan M. Melero-Martin, a co-author of a paper in the July 18 issue of the journal Circulation Research: Journal of the American Heart Association.

“We are proving the concept in mice who are compromised so that they don’t reject human cells,” said Melero-Martin, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston. “For clinical use, the way we envision it, if a patient has need to vascularize ischemic tissue, we can get cells from the patient ahead of time, grow them and inject them back into the patient.”

Ischemic tissue is starved of blood because of blocked arteries or other damage, and revascularization restores the vessels through which blood can flow to that tissue.

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