"We used the stem cells of the patients to grow a new blood vessel that would permit the two organs to collaborate properly," said Michael Olausson, Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Researchers found a way to extract stem cells that did not necessitate taking them from the bone marrow.
"Drilling in the bone marrow is very painful. It occurred to me that there must be a way to obtain the cells from the blood instead," Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, Professor of Transplantation Biology at Sahlgrenska Academy, said. The method involved taking 25 millilitre (approximately 2 tablespoons) of blood, the minimum quantity needed to obtain enough stem cells. Sumitran-Holgersson's idea turned out to surpass her wildest expectations - the extraction procedure worked perfectly the very first time.
"Not only that, but the blood itself accelerated growth of the new vein," Sumitran-Holgersson said. "The entire process took only a week, as opposed to a month in the first case. The blood contains substances that naturally promote growth," she said. Olausson and Sumitran-Holgersson have treated three patients so far. Two of the three patients are still doing well and have veins that are functioning as they should. In the third case the child is under medical surveillance and the outcome is more uncertain, researchers said.
The researchers have now reached the point that they can avoid taking painful blood marrow samples and complete the entire process in the matter of a week. "We believe that this technological progress can lead to dissemination of the method for the benefit of additional groups of patients, such as those with varicose veins or myocardial infarction, who need new blood vessels," Sumitran-Holgersson said. The research was published in the journal Bio Medicine.