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Stem Cell Technology Used In Unique Surgery

Tue, 05/10/2011 - 7:23am

Surgeon and Professor Michael Olausson was recently able to create a new connection between a young girl's intestines and liver with the aid of a blood vessel developed from her own bone marrow. The girl is now in good health and with an excellent prognosis. She developed, during her first year of life, a blood clot in the vessel that leads from the intestines to the liver, introducing the risk of internal bleeding or the possible need for a liver transplant.

In optimal cases, the surgery can be performed using blood vessels from other parts of the patient's body, but a liver transplant may be necessary if the surgery is unsuccessful due to a lack of sufficient blood vessels. Blood vessels from a dead donor were used in the present case. The vessel was then chemically treated to remove all cell RNA and DNA. This left just the supporting tissue. Stem cells were then obtained from the girl's bone marrow and added to the supporting tissue. A new blood vessel grew in just under four weeks. This was used during the surgery in order to create the new connection between the liver and the intestines, curing the young girl.

"We carried out the surgery over three months ago now, and the result was very good, with no serious complications. To our knowledge this is the first procedure of this type in the world," says Michael Olausson. "The girl is in good health, and we believe that her prognosis is very good. Since the vessel was created with the girl's own stem cells, she does not need to take drugs to prevent rejection", says Olausson, who works at the Transplant Center at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

The procedure shows that it is possible to create new blood vessels from stem cells using a previous blood vessel as a template. This can lead to the condition that the girl suffered from being treated more easily, and with less risk for the patient. "The next step is to intensify research into the recreation of other organs, and to develop methods that can be used for arteries. This can help, among others, patients who need dialysis and those needing surgery for coronary arteries. It may also help those needing complete organs", adds Olausson. "There may also be major financial benefits for the healthcare system if it proves possible to produce, for example, complete kidneys. The consumption of drugs will be dramatically reduced."

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