Re-engineered blood vessels show promise for bypass surgery, grafts, UMHS researchers find

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Surgeons at the University of Michigan Health System report that they have been able to strip tiny blood vessels from rats and re-engineer them to be more effective when implanted in a new animal. The findings could benefit people who have already had vascular bypass surgery and need new blood vessels for subsequent procedures.

Essentially, the researchers take these hair-width arterial grafts from a donor rat, remove all living cells from the rest of the tissue, insert vascular cells from the new host and then reimplant the graft. Using the host's own cells increases the likelihood of success by reducing the chance of rejection.

"Small blood vessels are needed all the time for grafts to use in heart bypass surgery, lower extremity bypasses and tissue transfer. The biggest problem is finding a source for these vessels. A typical source is some other blood vessel in the patient's body. To be able to have something that we can manufacture ahead of time or be able to take off the shelf, would be advantageous to many patients," says lead researcher David L. Brown, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the U-M Medical School.

Previous research has used similar techniques with larger blood vessels, like those used in cardiac bypass surgery. This is the first study to look at these very small blood vessels.

"You'd expect that the smaller the vessel is, the greater the chance that it would clot. But in our study, the blood vessels stayed open, despite being only 1 millimeter in diameter," says Gregory Borschel, M.D., a resident surgeon in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the U-M Medical School. Clotting becomes a problem when reattaching the vessels.

"Tissue engineered blood vessels may provide further options for patients who need vascular bypass procedures yet have no suitable donor vessels of their own," says Borschel, who will present his findings Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the American Co

Contact: Nicole Fawcett
University of Michigan Health System

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