Lab-manufactured blood vessels may soon replace riskier bypass surgeries for heart attack patients after a team of researchers from the Cambridge University successfully developed the three main types of cells that make up the wall of a blood vessel.
The research, spanning over four years, used patients' own skin cells to manufacture different types of vascular smooth muscle cells that can be used for transplant surgeries.
The study, which was published in the Nature Biotechnology, showed that the technique was 90 percent effective and could soon be applied for industrial scale manufacturing.
'We are very excited about its potential. They could be used to build an artificial artery in a test tube or the stem cells could be injected straight into the heart and they could form within it, Dr Sanjay Sinha, one of the study researchers, told the Daily Mail.
This new technique is believed to hold less risk to humans, compared to previous attempts where plasma containing toxic chemicals, extracted from animals, was used to grow the vessels.
These test tube blood vessels could also be used to treat patients undergoing kidney dialysis or to mend damaged arteries in accident victims.
Last June, a California-based biotechnology firm was the first to implant laboratory-grown blood vessels in three kidney dialysis patients, but this is the first time multiple types of blood vessels were grown that can have multiple medical application.
One type of blood vessel will not be suitable for everything. We are looking at making arteries and now we have the tools to engineer all different types of blood vessels which are appropriate for each patient, Sinha added.
The three types of blood vessels -- arteries, vein and capillaries - help carry nutrients to different organs of the body and keep the tissues alive.
One of the biggest challenges in regenerative medicine today is the availability of blood vessels. Thus, the possibility of off-the-shelf blood vessels not only saves surgery time in transplant operations, where currently blood vessels from the patient's other organs are used, but it also gives new hope to patients suffering from genetic disorders, where the blood vessels itself get degenerated.
According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases claim maximum number of lives every year. It contributes to almost 30 percent of all global deaths and by 2030, about 23.6 million people will die from heart diseases and stroke. In the U.K. itself, it is estimated that someone has a heart attack every two minutes and 28,000 bypass surgeries are performed every year.