Scientists Grow Human Veins in Lab

US scientists have successfully grown human veins in a lab, which may revolutionize heart bypass surgery and kidney dialysis procedures, the Daily Mail reported.Scientists from Duke University, East Carolina University and Yale University claim that they can create “fully formed vascular grafts” through a method that extracts smooth muscle cells from a human cadaver and grafts them onto polyglycolic acid tubes.  The bio-engineered veins take about eight to ten weeks to grow.

However, doctors may not need to face any wait time with this procedure because the bio-engineered veins can be made ahead of time and stored in saline solution.  That way, doctors can simply pluck the veins off a shelf when they are needed.

As it stands now, 400,000 US citizens undergo heart bypass surgery every year, according to the CDC.  That number is only expected to grow as the number of people with heart disease skyrocket.  By 2030, the US is expected to spend over $800 billion in heart disease costs per year.

The bio-engineered veins could provide surgeons with a new way to approach bypass surgery that may lead to less complications.

“Currently, grafting using the patient’s own veins remains the gold standard,” said report author Dr. Alan Kypson of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.  “But, harvesting a vein from the patient’s leg can lead to complications, and for patients who don’t have suitable veins, the bio-engineered veins could serve as an important new way to provide a coronary bypass.”

The veins are sterile, which means the patients’ immune systems will not reject them.  They can also be made in a variety of sizes and used in different operations.

So far, they have been tested in baboons and dogs with no adverse effects.  A spokeswoman from Humacyte, a North Carolina regenerative medicine company that contributed to the study and funded the research, says that human clinical trials will begin soon.

Click here to read more from the Daily Mail.