WEDNESDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 2011The other options available to doctors are to use synthetic polytetrafluoroethylene grafts, which usually last no longer than 10 months, or to generate tissue-engineered grafts using the patient’s own fibroblasts or endothelial cells. These tissue-engineered grafts can take around six to nine months to grow. Now, scientists have reported in Science Translational Medicine the development of an innovative method to generate universal vascular grafts using new tissue-engineering methods .
Human smooth muscle cells from donor tissue were grown in a bioractor on rapidly degradable tubular scaffolds. After seven-to-ten week’s growth, the scaffold had degraded and the cells were removed, leaving only a collagenous matrix secreted by the muscle cells.
The 3-6 mm diameter tubular vascular grafts made with this technique are non-immunogenic, and can therefore be used in any patient without rejection by the host’s immune system. The grafts can be stored for up to 12 months and have been successfully tested in animal models. Once confirmed in human trials, this strategy could be a first step towards a new way of graft engineering, and opens the possibility of creating a ‘human graft bank’- the generation of universal grafts that can be stored and accessed immediately upon request.
Written by Stephanie Glaser