Patients may grow arteries
By RADA ROUSE
Friday 7 July 2000
Patients who need heart bypass surgery may be able to grow
their own arteries in future, research shows.
A technique developed at the University of Queensland
exploits the body's own immune process to allow an artificial
artery to be grown in the stomach, then harvested for use in
Julie Campbell, the head of the Centre for Research in
Vascular Biology, said this could replace the practice of
transplanting arteries or veins from elsewhere in the body.
So far, the technique has been proved only in animals, in
which the arteries have lasted 12 months or more.
The process uses the principles of granulation, in which
immune cells called macrophages build a capsule of tissue
around a foreign body.
"The process is similar to the way an oyster builds a pearl
around a foreign body, in its case a tiny granule of sand,"
Professor Campbell said.
Colleague Dr Robert MacGinley told the Australasian
Biotechnology Association annual conference in Brisbane
yesterday that the centre's preliminary results were better
than any other tissue-engineered vessel, auguring well for
human trials within two years. More than 17,000 Australians
undergo heart bypass surgery every year.
Professor Campbell said growing an artificial artery using the
centre's technique took two to three weeks.
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