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Stanford doctors advance in bid to turn mice stem cells into blood vessels

m a patient's own stem cells, this rejection could potentially be eliminated, Abilez said.

"Our goal is to derive all the different cell types from the same, original cell," Abilez explained. "This would be new for an engineered tissue. We hope our work with mouse stem cells could eventually be translated to human autologous adult stem cells."

With an estimated 70 million Americans diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, the need for arterial vascular grafts continues to grow. In 2002, there were 1.5 million medical procedures done that required replacement blood vessels.

"This is an exciting, emerging research front," said John Cook, MD, PhD, professor of medicine (cardiovascular medicine). "It has great potential for therapeutic applications."

Abilez's success is due in part to a custom-made bioreactor that researchers built in their laboratory; it has the capability of delivering controlled chemical, electrical and mechanical stimulation to the stem cells. Bioreactors have been used for centuries as fermentation chambers for growing organisms such as bacteria and yeast, but only recently have they been used in stem cell research labs.

"Oscar is the first one to really create an environment which cells see in real life," Zarins said. "He's the first one to really create the multiplicity of biomechanical stresses and strains that the vascular system experiences in everyday life when you simply get up and walk around the block." The computer-controlled bioreactor was developed to help create a standardized process for differentiating stem cells in laboratories that could be used around the world.

"The idea behind it is that you can control various conditions to try to make these stem cells become the cells you want," Abilez said. "Our goal is to take the mouse stem cells and find the conditions that will make the stem cells into smooth muscle cells (myocytes), endothelial cells and fibroblasts, which make up the three l
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Source:Stanford University Medical Center


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