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Scientists created blood vessel using stem cells to save child’s life

A 10-year-old girl was cured due to unique surgery in the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Doctors implanted in her body a blood vessel which was created using stem cell technology. Before operation the girl had a high risk of internal bleeding threatening her life. Now she’s safe and healthy.

The child’s disease was caused by a clot in the vessel that passes blood from the intestines to the liver. The surgeons had to reconstruct the right path of the blood to cure the girl. Usually blood vessels from other parts of the patient’s body are used in this treatment. However, if blood vessels are not sufficient, the operation may end with liver transplantation. And this will make the patient to take immunosuppressive drugs during the whole life.

The scientists searched for another way to cure a child being aware of the liver transplantation risk. They took a blood vessel from a dead donor and removed cell’s components leaving its scaffold. Then the stem cells from the girl’s bone marrow were added to the vessel. In four weeks they formed a tissue and the vessel was ready for implantation. As own patient’s stem cells were used, the girl doesn’t need to take immunosuppressive drugs.

Creating organs and tissues by adding stem cells to scaffolds made from biological materials is a promising field of research. Scientists discovered that development of stem cells is influenced by the environment they are growing in. Thus decellularized scaffolds can be used as templates for creating tissues needed for particular treatment. For instance, the researchers from Queen's University add stem cells to fat tissue scaffold investigating ways of soft tissue reconstruction, which is necessary after tumor removal or breast mastectomy surgery.

The scientists from Columbia University use biological scaffold and stem cells to improve blood flow and regenerate tissue damaged by myocardial infarction. They created a “patch” for an ill heart, which kept stem cells in the necrosis area. It promoted the growth of new blood vessels and stimulated heart muscle to repair itself in experiments with rodents. But the Swedish researchers are the first in the world who used technology of stem cells growth on biological scaffold in the successful treatment of a human.