Weaving Runs Through My Veins
You may have heard someone say that weaving is in their blood, but what about their veins? It’s not a metaphor; scientists are now able to weave human blood vessels in the laboratory.
In 2000, Nicolas L’Heureux and Todd McAllister founded Cytograft Tissue Engineering (CTE) and began work on trying to grow human-derived blood vessels to replace the synthetic ones in use for dialysis patients. After over a decade of research, the team has developed a way to take cells from a patient’s hand and turn them into thin threads, which can then be woven into a tube, using a small sterile loom. The tubes become new veins for a dialysis or bypass patient.
Each vessel takes only a few months to grow and weave in the lab, and because they are derived from the patient’s own cells, so far none of the test patients’ bodies have rejected these transplants. These human textiles are also extremely durable, seamless, and appear to be puncture resistant, exactly what you want in a vein.
CTE's findings are still in the early stages of development, and more testing needs to be done to determine the safety of this procedure. Still, the results so far are positive, and the scientists in charge expect woven veins to be available for widespread use in 5–10 years.