In 60 patients with end-stage kidney failure over a four-year phase 2 clinical trial, the bioengineered blood vessels were safely and effectively integrated into the native circulatory systems.
Blood vessels can be damaged by a variety of disorders and procedures, such as chronic heart conditions, organ transplants and cancer surgery. The standard-of-care option for repairing damaged vessels involves replacing them with blood vessels taken from elsewhere in the body, but this option can add undue stress to patients who are already struggling with medical conditions.
Other approaches such as taking blood vessels from human donors or from animals face pitfalls due to limited availability and preservation techniques that impair the integrity of the tissue. To overcome these obstacles, Robert Kirkton and colleagues performed the most extensive microscopic analysis of engineered human tissue to date and used tissue engineering techniques to design bioengineered human acellular vessels (HAVs). Specifically, they seeded human vascular cells onto a biodegradable scaffold and housed them in a bioreactor system to help grow the tissue.