Israel has grown blood vessels from embryonic stem cells
Scientists at the lapaport school of medicine at the technion university in Haifa, Israel, in collaboration with the Haifa rambam medical center, have for the first time created new blood vessels using reprogrammed embryonic stem cells, a development that could have important implications for the treatment of vascular damage caused by stroke and heart disease.
The researchers are said to have used biotechnology in the laboratory to produce a large number of treatable pericytes, an important component of blood vessels. During embryonic stem cell differentiation, they used cell membrane biomarkers to grow these normally functioning pericytes.
When they injected the cells into the leg muscles of the nearly completely blocked mice, not only did they form new blood vessels, but they also restored function to muscle cells that had been damaged by not being able to properly supply oxygen.
Professor Josephine iscovitch, who led the research, said the pericytes were grown from embryonic and adult stem cells donated for medical research. Adult stem cells, which can be extracted from patients and reprogrammed using genetic engineering techniques, can take on the characteristics of embryonic stem cells and differentiate into the body cells they need. Due to adult stem cells come from the patient itself, the resulting pericytes are not rejected by the patient's immune system.
Although the technique is still far from being practical, it is an important breakthrough with many implications, the researchers said, and will help deepen understanding of the process of blood vessel growth and develop new treatments for damage caused by blocked blood vessels.
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