Swedish doctors find new way to replicate blood vessels

Two tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days, shows a new study from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and its associated hospital.

Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, professor of transplantation biology at Sahlgrenska Academy, and Michael Olausson, surgeon/medical director of the Transplant Center and professor at Sahlgrenska Academy, came up with the idea, planned and carried out the procedure three years ago.

The two doctors have published a new study based on two other transplants which were performed in 2012 at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The patients, two children, had the same condition as in the first case - they were missing the vein that goes from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver.

 "Once again, we used the stem cells of the patients to grow new blood vessels that would permit the organs to collaborate properly," Olausson says. This time, however, Sumitran-Holgersson, found a way to extract stem cells that did not necessitate taking them from the bone marrow.

"Drilling in the bone marrow is very painful," she says. "It occurred to me that there must be a way to obtain the cells from the blood instead."

The method involved taking 25mm (about two tablespoons) of blood, the minimum quantity needed to obtain enough stem cells. Sumitran-Holgersson's idea surpassed her own expectations.

The extraction procedure worked perfectly the very first time. "Not only that, the blood itself accelerated growth of the new vein," Sumitran-Holgersson says. "The entire process took only a week, as opposed to a month in the first case. The blood contains substances that naturally promote growth."

Olausson and Sumitran-Holgersson have treated three patients so far. Two of the three patients are doing well and have veins that are functioning as they are expected to. In the third case, the patient is still under medical surveillance and the outcome of the procedure is uncertain.