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Stem cells used for replacement tissue


Irish scientists have located and developed a stem cell that is able to produce replacement blood vessels in the laboratory, which can then be transplanted into rodents. A similar stem cell can be found in humans, and therefore the scientists hope that this could be used to grow human blood vessels in a laboratory.

Professor Noel Caplice, director of the centre for research in vascular biology at University College Dublin and a cardiologist at Cork University Hospital, explained that within five years there could be trials of the tissues in humans.

The stem cells appear willing to grow almost without restriction, which could signify potential for unlimited tissue replacement. In regards to the removal of stem cells, these should be taken from baby teeth as this will avoid decline due to age or pollutants. It is also best to harvest stem cells from naturally shed teeth as this avoids unnecessary pain and is non-invasive.

Professor Caplice has successfully grown an aorta and used it as replacement tissue in a rodent. The vessel was shown to work as normal and the rodent went on to live for a number of months. The research to track down this rare kind of stem cell has taken years. Professor Caplice described the work as “a major breakthrough in the field of blood vessel replacement.”

If this treatment was used in humans, then the receiver of the blood vessel would ideally also have donated the starter cells. This is because stem cells that are taken from the patient will mean that a perfect match is available; this then avoids the patient having to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of their life.

This treatment may also mean that other organs could be replaced, such as the bladder, urethra and oesophagus.