Bioengineered Arteries

ambience: Heartbeat


There seems to be new hope on the horizon when it comes to medical matters of the heart. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. When someone undergoes a coronary bypass operation, veins transplanted from the patient’s leg are often used in the surgery. However, these veins aren’t as strong as the arteries around the heart that they replace, and complications sometimes arise. However, in the future, doctors will likely be using bioengineered arteries, thanks to Laura Niklason, an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. The procedure begins by taking a cell sample from the patient.

“The cells that are taken from the patient are placed on a tubular, mesh-like structure. It’s composed of very fine individual fibers with many empty spaces in between the fibers. When we place cells on this mesh structure, what the cells do is they grow, they divide and proliferate, and fill in all the empty spaces, and in doing so, over several weeks, they convert a porous, mesh-like structure into a strong, tubular artery.”

Getting the cells to grow isn’t as simple as just placing them on a tube of mesh.

“The cells are put into a laboratory culture medium which help the cells to grow in the laboratory, and also make important proteins which make the vessel strong.”

And as for the mesh-like tubing? It’s biodegradable, so Niklason has found a way to create arteries that are strong enough to function on their own. They’ve already been successfully transplanted into animals, and Niklason estimates that we will be able to use this procedure on a human within ten or twenty years. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Bioengineered Arteries

Doctors may one day perform coronary bypass operations using arteries "grown" in the laboratory from the patient's own cells.
Air Date:10/09/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

ambience: Heartbeat


There seems to be new hope on the horizon when it comes to medical matters of the heart. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. When someone undergoes a coronary bypass operation, veins transplanted from the patient's leg are often used in the surgery. However, these veins aren't as strong as the arteries around the heart that they replace, and complications sometimes arise. However, in the future, doctors will likely be using bioengineered arteries, thanks to Laura Niklason, an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. The procedure begins by taking a cell sample from the patient.

"The cells that are taken from the patient are placed on a tubular, mesh-like structure. It's composed of very fine individual fibers with many empty spaces in between the fibers. When we place cells on this mesh structure, what the cells do is they grow, they divide and proliferate, and fill in all the empty spaces, and in doing so, over several weeks, they convert a porous, mesh-like structure into a strong, tubular artery."

Getting the cells to grow isn't as simple as just placing them on a tube of mesh.

"The cells are put into a laboratory culture medium which help the cells to grow in the laboratory, and also make important proteins which make the vessel strong."

And as for the mesh-like tubing? It's biodegradable, so Niklason has found a way to create arteries that are strong enough to function on their own. They've already been successfully transplanted into animals, and Niklason estimates that we will be able to use this procedure on a human within ten or twenty years. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.