Researchers Engineer Artificial Blood Vessels For Children With Heart Defects

First Posted: Sep 29, 2016 05:55 AM EDT

There are many developments in the field of medicine everyday, and the latest may just be the one you need for your child who has slim chances of surviving childhood -- one of them could make lives that much easier for children living with congenital heart defects.

The Guardian reported that a team of scientists were able to manufacture synthetic blood vessels that could be used to treat heart defects in children in a single operation. The work, which came from a team of US researchers, said that they were able to make synthetic arteries that grow as they are implanted in the body, making them particularly useful for children who are born with heart defects. These children will then no longer find the need to face a series of major operations over the course of their lives for their faulty hearts as standard tissues, called conduits, need replacements from time to time.

The artificial blood vessels that the researchers were able to engineer to replace real ones are said to have the ability to grow after they are implanted, said Live Science. They are especially engineered to replace real vessels, and one day, they could help prevent the need for repeat surgeries. For now, however, more tests are needed to ensure that they are safe for implantation in humans as they were for lambs - which were the original recipients to the synthetic blood vessels.

Robert Tranquillo, the head author of the study shared, "A child might have five open heart surgeries for these conduits to be resized as they grow, and that can mean incredible anguish for the patient and family."

Peter Weissberg, the medical doctor at the British Heart Foundation also added that the BHF-funded research in Bristol is aiming to accelerate the research so that babies born with congenital heart defects can look forward to healthier lives after a single operation.

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