In a first-of-its kind procedure, surgeons implanted a blood vessel into the arm of a 62-year-old Virginia man with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). For the first time in the U.S., surgeons were able to transplant a bioengineered blood vessel into the arm of a dialysis patient. This is a possible step forward toward more complex human-engineered organs such as kidneys and livers, but potentially a more immediate boon for people with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) on dialysis.
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If the bioengineered veins prove effective and safe it will be good news for the CKD Community who choose hemodialysis as their main modality and currently deal with blocked veins from clotting, additional surgical procedures and high risk of infection when harvesting veins for fistula or graft. Also the leading cause of death in CKD patients is Cardiovascular Disease, so it should be welcomed news to all CKD patients that researchers ultimately hope to translate what they learn from the implanted vein, to develop a readily available and durable graft for the heart and to treat blocked blood vessels.
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To build the vein, engineers cultivated human cells on a tubular scaffold to form a vessel-like shape, which they then scrubbed clean of qualities that can trigger immune responses. Hopes of long-term success are high because when the manufactured vein was tested in animals, the implanted vein ultimately adopted the cellular properties of a blood vessel, so not only were they not rejected by the host, but they actually became indistinguishable from living tissue as cells grew into the implant.
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The surgery represents a Major Milestone for tissue engineering as the bioengineered blood vessel can be stored relatively easily and donated universally, unlike veins harvested from a patient's own body. Washed in a "special solution" that rinses out cellular properties that could cause rejection, the nonliving immunologically silent "vein" can be stored on a shelf, readily available to be used in patients whenever needed. Jeffrey H. Lawson, a vascular surgeon and biologist at Duke Medicine said, "A blood vessel is really an organ -- it's complex tissue. We start with this, and one day we may be able to engineer a liver or a kidney or an eye."
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KidneyBuzz.com would like to note that this is not a hypothetical solution that has decades before it is applicable to the CKD Community. The FDA approved the phase 1 trial that will ultimately involve 20 kidney dialysis patients in the U.S. Researchers at Duke who helped create the blood vessel are serving as study leaders before submitting the results for a safety review.
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Moore, Elizabeth Armstrong. "Man with Kidney Disease First in U.S. to Get Bioengineered Vein." CNET News. CBS Interactive
"Man with Kidney Disease First in U.S. to Get Bioengineered Vein." Sugar City.