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Scientists devise method for lab-grown blood vessels

13th January 2011

A US research team has created a new method allowing transplantable blood vessels and capillaries to be generated in a laboratory environment.

Researchers from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have been able to modify the plastic polyethylene glycol to imitate the extracellular matrix of the body, before combining it with two kinds of cells involved in the formation of vasculature.

This allowed for the creation of soft hydrogels containing both living cells and growth factors, which can be utilised to form capillaries that were shown to function as blood vessels when transplanted into mice.

According to the team, this may solve one of the key problems involved in the creation of transplantable tissue, as structures thicker than several hundred microns cannot be created without a blood supply.

Study lead co-author Jennifer West, department chair and the Isabel C Cameron Professor of Bioengineering at Rice, said: "The inability to grow blood-vessel networks in lab-grown tissues is the leading problem in regenerative medicine today."

Earlier this month, a separate study found that human embryonic stem cells can be used as a means of generating blood platelets that are functionally indistinguishable from naturally-occurring examples.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-800340996-ADNFCR

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