Scientists at the University of British Columbia were able to create human blood vessels in the laboratory using stem cells. This achievement could be the beginning of a major breakthrough in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's or diabetes.
The human embryonic stem cells needed for the experiments are grown from donated embryos at an early stage of development by volunteers. The process goes like this: an egg is artificially fertilized and a primitive embryo develops for about four to five days. Subsequently, stem cells are derived from it.
Researchers took the resulting stem cells to obtain, among other things, human blood vessels. The organoids were then implanted into mice. They were followed for six months, and during this time, structures similar to human blood vessels, arteries and capillaries, developed in the rodents.
The grown stem cells, according to scientists, can defeat diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. According to the latest data, up to 420 million people in the world have diabetes. Among other symptoms of this disease is a still unexplained enlargement of the membrane surrounding blood vessels. Its disruption causes the amount of oxygen and nutrients flowing to the tissue cells to decrease. This increases the risk of heart attacks, blindness, and kidney failure.
Recent studies have shown that none of the current diabetes medications have any effect on these vascular changes. By reconstructing blood vessels from human stem cells, scientists have discovered an enzyme inhibitor that prevents thickening of the blood vessel walls. This could lead to the identification of new therapies.