VASASTAN, SWEDEN—The first vein grown from a patient’s own stem cells was successfully transplanted into a 10-year-old girl, potentially offering a way for those lacking healthy veins to undergo dialysis or heart bypass surgery.
A team led by Michael Olausson of the University of Gothenburg took a 9-centimeter (3.5-inch) segment of vein from a human donor and removed all living cells, the Swedish researchers wrote in a study in The Lancet medical journal today. The resulting protein scaffolding was injected with stem cells from the girl’s bone marrow, and two weeks later was implanted in the patient, who had a blockage in the vein that carries blood from the spleen and intestines to the liver.
The result points to what may be a safer source of stem cells, the building blocks of life which can grow into any type of tissue in the body. Using cells from the patient may limit the risk that the immune system would attack the transplant, which can occur with tissue taken from healthy people and given to the sick. The girl hasn’t developed signs of rejection, even without taking drugs to suppress her immune system, the researchers said.