Growing a Blood Vessel in a Week

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Two tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown in a new study from Sahlgrenska Acadedmy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital published in EBioMedicine.
The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Two tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown in a new study from Sahlgrenska Acadedmy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital published in EBioMedicine.

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward.

Two tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown in a new study from Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital published in EBioMedicine.

Just three years ago, a patient at Sahlgrenska University Hospital received a blood vessel transplant grown from her own stem cells.

Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, Professor of Transplantation Biology at Sahlgrenska Academy, and Michael Olausson, Surgeon/Medical Director of the Transplant Center and Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy, came up with the idea, planned and carried out the procedure.

Missing a vein

Professors Sumitran-Holgersson and Olausson have published a new study in EBioMedicine based on two other transplants that were performed in 2012 at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The patients, two young children, had the same condition as in the first case – they were missing the vein that goes from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver.

“Once again we used the stem cells of the patients to grow a new blood vessel that would permit the two organs to collaborate properly,” Professor Olausson says.

Stroke of genius

This time, however, Professor Sumitran-Holgersson, found a way to extract stem cells that did not necessitate taking them from the bone marrow.

“Drilling in the bone marrow is very painful,” she says. “It occurred to me that there must be a way to obtain the cells from the blood instead.”

The fact that the patients were so young fueled her passion to look for a new approach. The method involved taking 25 milliliter (approximately 2 tablespoons) of blood, the minimum quantity needed to obtain enough stem cells.

Blood willingly cooperates

Professor Sumitran-Holgersson’s idea turned out to surpass her wildest expectations – the extraction procedure worked perfectly the very first time.

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