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Man with renal failure implanted with bioengineered vein

Posting in Technology

A kidney dialysis patient is the first in the U.S. to receive a bioengineered blood vessel transplanted by a team of doctors at Duke University Hospital.

The FDA recently approved a clinical trial involving 20 kidney dialysis patients in the United States. In an operation which took place on June 5 this year, the first patient to receive the implant into his arm was a 62-year-old man from Danville, Va., who has renal failure. Clinical trials have also begun in Poland.

The new vein is made of human cells but with no biological properties that could cause rejection. Engineered by cultivating donated human cells on a tubular scaffold to form a vessel, in tests, the vein fared better than synthetic and animal-based implants.

The success of the transplant could pave the way for more complex procedures and potentially could help kidney dialysis patients avoid surgery undertaken to improve blood flow during treatments.

The procedure, known as hemodialysis, comes with complications including blood clotting, frequent hospitalizations and the need for separate procedures to harvest veins from the patient's body.

If bioengineered variants prove beneficial, then the researchers hope to develop a graft for heart bypass surgeries.

"We hope this sets the groundwork for how these things can be grown, how they can incorporate into the host, and how they can avoid being rejected immunologically," Jeffrey H. Lawson, M.D., PhD, a vascular surgeon and vascular biologist at Duke 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."

Read More: Duke University

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Image credit: Duke University

— By on June 7, 2013, 12:28 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure