Researchers are making progress in developing tissue-engineered blood vessels, an endeavor that they hope will one day lead to laboratory-grown vessels finding a place in the clinic for such applications as hemodialysis for patients with kidney disease.
In one recent report, researchers reported an approach that marks a step toward “off-the-shelf” tissue-derived vessels that can be stored for later use (Dahl SL et al. Sci Transl Med. 2011;3:68ra9). A team led by Laura Niklason, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and of biomedical engineering at Yale University in New Haven, Conn, and founder of Humacyte, Morrisville, NC, which funded the research, cultured smooth muscle cells from human donor tissues on tube-like scaffolds of a biodegradable polymer. Blood vessels were generated after the cells produced an extracellular matrix and the scaffold degraded. To make the vessels nonimmunogenic, detergents were used to strip away cellular material.