Technology Insight: the evolution of tissue-engineered vascular grafts-from research to clinical practice


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Abstract

SUMMARYThere is a considerable clinical need for alternatives to the autologous vein and artery tissues used for vascular reconstructive surgeries such as CABG, lower limb bypass, arteriovenous shunts and repair of congenital defects to the pulmonary outflow tract. So far, synthetic materials have not matched the efficacy of native tissues, particularly in small diameter applications. The development of cardiovascular tissue engineering introduced the possibility of a living, biological graft that might mimic the functional properties of native vessels. While academic research in the field of tissue engineering in general has been active, as yet there has been no clear example of clinical and commercial success. The recent transition of cell-based therapies from experimental to clinical use has, however, reinvigorated the field of cardiovascular tissue engineering. Here, we discuss the most promising approaches specific to tissue-engineered blood vessels and briefly introduce our recent clinical results. The unique regulatory, reimbursement and production challenges facing personalized medicine are also discussed.

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