Fat tissue is a plentiful source of stem cells.
Matthias Nollert at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and his colleagues coaxed liposuction-derived stem cells into forming smooth muscle cells found in arteries and veins. They then grew these cells along a thin collagen membrane, which was rolled into a tube the size of a small blood vessel.
As the smooth muscle cells grew, the team subjected them to a battery of mechanical stresses that mimic the expansion and collapse that such a vessel would ultimately experience in the heart. The team hope that this will increase the vessel’s robustness in the body.
Unlike artificial stents, which restore blood flow through narrow or once-blocked arteries, vessels made from your own stem cells wouldn’t run the risk of being rejected by the immune system. Side effects that can occur when damaged vessels are replaced with those taken from other parts of the body would also be avoided.