Human blood vessels can now be grown in Lab


  • A new study successfully grew lab-grown human blood vessels from stem cells that are identical to the ones that are in our body.
  • In a “diabetic environment”, lab findings showed that the thickening of blood vessels called the base membrane is similar to the thickening exhibited in diabetic patients.
  • The team managed to find a chemical compound called inhibiting y-secretase that could inhibit the thickening, thus could prove to be helpful in diabetes treatment.

A system of human blood vessels that mimic the ones currently transporting blood throughout the body can now be grown in a lab. This can be the latest game changer in the treatment of diabetes.

The details on how researchers from the University of British Columbia successfully encouraged stem cells into growing into human blood vessels are published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. Dubbed as “organoids”, these refer to three-dimensional, lab-grown cellular systems that are virtually identical to the characteristics of organs and tissues.

The blood vessels of a person with diabetes often show an abnormal thickening known as “basement membrane”. This thickening inhibits the transport of oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues, which leads to a range of health problems such as kidney failure, blindness, heart attacks and strokes.

In the study, scientists placed the lab-grown blood vessels in a petri dish created to imitate a “diabetic environment”. According to researcher Reiner Wimmer, the basement membrane was found to thicken in a way that was significantly similar to the thickening seen in patients with diabetes.

Next, they searched for a chemical compound that could stop this thickening in the lab-grown blood vessels. They were able to find one — an inhibitor of the enzyme y-secretase.

The study suggests that in the treatment of diabetes, the presence of inhibiting y-secretase in diabetics could be helpful. However, other than being used for diabetes research, there are other potential uses for lab-grown blood vessels says fellow researcher Josef Penninger.

“Being able to build human blood vessels as organoids from stem cells is a game changer.  Every single organ in our body is linked with the circulatory system,” said Penninger during a press release.

In addition, Penninger also said that this could potentially allow researchers to unveil the causes and treatments for different vascular diseases that include Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, wound healing problems, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.


Source: Science Alert

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