Scientists cultivate human blood vessels in cutting-edge research at the UBC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A new development that comes from UBC is being called a medical breakthrough.

Scientists at the UBC have discovered how to grow blood vessels and organoids in Petri dishes in research laboratories for the first time. The discovery is considered a breakthrough in engineering technology that could be used for research to combat diseases such as diabetes, cancer and other diseases.

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Dr. Josef Penninger says that preventing any change in blood vessels is the key when it comes to preventing diseases.

"Blood vessels play a fundamental role in all aspects of our body and our biology, and we have now been able, for the first time, to design perfect human blood vessels," he tells NEWS 1130. "Now we can model human diseases."

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He calls research a "game change", since every organ of the body is linked to the circulatory system. This discovery could help researchers find the causes and treatments for several vascular diseases, such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, wound healing problems and strokes.

Although some scientists have been able to recreate human tissues, the creation of blood vessels is a territory to be discovered.

"The blood vessels support all the tissue that carries oxygen and nutrients in our tissues, and this had not been possible before," he says. "This was really one of the final barriers to human tissue engineering."

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Cultivating the "organoids" in the laboratory involves creating three-dimensional human blood vessels from stem cells that mimic the organs.

"What is so exciting about our work is that we succeeded in making real human blood vessels from stem cells," says Reiner Wimmer, one of the authors of the study in a press release. "Our organoids resemble human capillaries to a large extent, even at the molecular level, and we can now use them to study diseases of blood vessels directly in human tissue."

So far it has not been used in humans, but tests on animals with mice have begun for the investigation of diabetes.

– With Taran Parmar files.

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