February 22, 2011

Vein Harvesting May No Longer Be Needed in the Future

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 1:07 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

photo from Los Angeles Times news article


According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, researchers have found a way to engineer blood vessels needed for bypass surgery.

Bypass surgery is a complex and intimidating procedure that makes everyone cringe at the thought of having their chest cut open.  What some people may not realize is that smaller procedures are needed prior to bypass.  Other veins or arteries need to be cut out from other parts of the body in order to replace the blocked arteries in the heart.  For patients who require a second bypass or even a third, you start to run out of places to take veins for the heart.  Apparently, as many as 100,000 patients a year are unable to have bypass because they do not have enough suitable veins to put in the heart.

Luckily a new scientific procedure has a found a way to make vessels that are storable and ready-to-go at a moment’s notice. A company called Humacyte, Inc. created the vessels by shaping cadaver smooth muscle cells around a tube and letting the cells create their own collagen network.  After 2 months, a new vessel has formed and they wash away any of the remaining living cells.  What’s left behind is a clean, durable vessel that can be implanted right away or put on the shelf for later use.

Human trials are expected to begin soon using these new artificial vessels.  Animal testing in baboons and dogs have already shown promising results.  Other types of artificial vessels may also be emerging soon but none are close to being available to the public.  It may be another 5 to 10 years but the technology is evolving quickly and bypass patients may have more options soon!

Artificial blood vessels: In the Works – latimes.com.