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First Vein Grown from Patient's Own Stem Cells Used in Life-Saving Implant

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But researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden grew the girl a new vein by first taking a portion of vein from the groin of a deceased donor, stripping it of all its cells and then using that as a scaffold for growing a new vein from stem cells collected from the girl's bone marrow.

The technique, detailed in the June 14 early online issue of The Lancet, has been previously used for growing windpipes and urethras.

The girl suffered no complications from the operation and the graft immediately provided her with a functional blood supply. Over the ensuing months she grew more than 2 inches and gained 11 pounds.

However, a year after the first procedure the vein narrowed and she had to undergo a second implant, once again using a stem cell-engineered vein.

The researchers acknowledge that strictures and aneurysm formation may be potential problems with their procedure. Still, they wrote in their study, "It establishes the feasibility and safety of a novel paradigm for treatment. Our work opens interesting new areas of research, including trying to reproduce arteries for surgical use in patients."

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