Scientists Come Closer to Custom-Built Blood Vessels
Researchers at Johns Hopkins made big steps towards the eventual creation of customized blood vessels this month. Creating new blood vessel networks from stem cells, the scientists were able to successfully transplant them into laboratory mice. The manufactured blood vessel network, which is produced through the reprogramming of ordinary cells, is a big accomplishment in the world of cell biology. The hope is to someday create vessels genetically tailored to individual patients – drastically reducing the chance that they’ll be rejected by the patient’s immune system.
The progress is important for patients suffering from diabetes, burn victims, and other conditions that compromise vasculature functions. And while there are still obstacles preventing the researchers from efficiently creating blood vessel networks that can be used to treat human patients, the new study did create a much more streamlined growth process.
Unlike previous methods, which utilized chemical signals to create a variety of cell types from stem cells – and then called for scientists to sort through them in an effort to find the ones they needed – the new, streamlined, process creates only the two specific types of cells needed to create blood vessels.
The new process uses pluripotent cells that have been reverse engineered from skin or blood cells. This is another major difference from previous attempts, which used adult stem cells derived from bone marrow.