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Natural Ingredients: Method grows vessels from one's own cells

Starting with bits of skin, scientists have produced new blood vessels in a laboratory and successfully implanted them into two patients, a medical first.

Previously, vessels grown in a lab had failed to hold together without the support of a synthetic backing. Unfortunately, backing materials such as plastic aren't flexible enough to handle the variable pressures of blood flow. Also, some backings trigger inflammation and attract blood clots.

Researchers at Cytograft Tissue Engineering in Novato, Calif., have created vessels from a patient's own cells, an approach that avoids inflammation, clot formation, and immune rejection. Surgeons in Argentina installed the engineered vessels in place of artificial shunts in the arms of two kidney-dialysis patients. In the 6 months since the operations, the new vessels have worked well, say the Cytograft scientists. They announced their findings last week at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas.

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