A team of Swiss scientists published results of their experiments in which they used tissue engineering techniques in order to obtain tissue from progenitor epithelial cells from umbilical cord blood, which can be used for autologous vascular transplant.
Such transplants can be used, for example, in the surgical treatment of congenital malformations of the heart in newborns. By now, an important restriction towards this was a lack of proper material for the transplantation.
It has previously been proven that progenitor epithelium cells isolated from bone marrow create in-vitro cardiac valves. However, collecting marrow from newborns with cardiac malformations is a risky procedure. The Swiss team (led by Simon Hoerstrup) showed that similar valves can be grown from autologous cord blood progenitor epithelium cells. These cells are expanded in-vitro, then planted and grown in a bioreactor on a biodegrading scaffold. Thus, we get a new autologous blood vessel, which can be transplanted without the risk of rejection by the recipient. An additional advantage is that frozen stem cells can be utilized at any time, when needed.