Vein grown from stem cells successfully implanted

DOCTORS in Sweden successfully replaced a potentially-fatal blocked vein in a 10-year-old girl with one grown from her own stem cells, according to a study published today.

The team - from the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital - accomplished the feat by populating a section of vein from a dead donor using stem cells gleaned from the girl's bone barrow.

"The new stem-cells-derived graft resulted not only in good blood flow rates and normal laboratory test values but also, in strikingly improved quality of life for the patient," the study's authors wrote in The Lancet.

The successful feat also "opens interesting new areas of research," they added.

The operation marked the latest step in scientists' ability to create replacement organs for transplant.

In 2010, doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital made history by successfully transplanting a donor windpipe into a young boy, also aged 10, that was regenerated inside his body using his own stem cells.

In the latest instance, a 3.5-inch (9cm) section of groin vein from the donor was stripped of any living cells and "recellularised" with new cells grown from stem cells taken from the girl's bone marrow.

Techniques that use stem cells from a patient's own body carry the major benefit that they do not provoke an immune response. In the Swedish case, one alternative treatment option was a liver transplant, which would have required a lifetime of immunosuppressants.

The work was funded by the Swedish government.


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