First of its kind blood vessel implant performed at Duke
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In a first-of-its-kind operation in the United States, a team of surgeons at Duke University Hospital helped create a bioengineered blood vessel and implanted it into the arm of a kidney dialysis patient. The procedure, part of a U.S. clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the blood vessel, is a milestone in the field of tissue engineering. The new vein is an off-the-shelf, human cell-based product with no biological link to the patient that would cause organ rejection. Using technology developed at Duke and at a spin-off company it started called Humacyte, the vein is engineered by cultivating donated human cells on a tubular scaffold to form a vessel. The vessel is then cleansed of the qualities that might trigger an immune response. In pre-clinical tests, the veins have performed better than other synthetic and animal-based implants. The project has been a fifteen year collaboration between Duke's Dr. Jeffrey Lawson, and Dr. Laura Niklason, co-founder of Humacyte and a former faculty member at Duke who is now at Yale.