June 15, 2012- In Sweden, doctors replaced an important blocked blood vessel with the first vein to be grown in a lab setting by using the patient’s stem cells. The transplant operation was successful and marked another step forward in the search of making new body parts for humans.
The successful transplant could help open the door to cell-based grafts for dialysis patients or heart bypass sufferers who lack the suitable blood vessels needed for replacement surgery. The team in Sweden said it was working with a company, whose name it would not disclose, to commercialize the process.
The big advantage in using tissue that is grown from the cells of a patient is there is no risk of the organ rejecting the transplant and thus no need for the use of immunosuppressive drugs for the life of the patient. In 2008, a woman received the first transplant in the world of a windpipe that was tailor-made. It was grown using the patient’s own set of stem cells. Other similar trachea surgeries have since followed.
The recent surgery involved a child with a hepatic portal vein that was obstructed. The vein drains blood out of the spleen and intestines into the liver and if blocked it could cause death. The surgery was successful and restored blood flow to the area.