The scientists have developed a new way to grow human blood vessel as organoids for the first time in a petri dish. The scientists at the University of British Columbia carried out research in a response to increased vascular diseases. Vascular diseases include Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular diseases, wound healing problems, stroke, cancer and, diabetes.
The results of the study was published in the Nature Journal on January 16th, 2019.
According to this research, scientists can grow the self-organized three-dimensional human blood vessel from pluripotent stem cells. This artificial structure is known as organoid.
An organoid is a three-dimensional structure that is derived from stem cells. It works like an organ. The structure can prove to be useful to study facets of many human organs in a petri dish.
The senior author of this study and the director of the Life Sciences Institute at UBC, Josef Penninger said, "Being able to build human blood vessels as organoids from stem cells is a game changer."
Penninger further remarked, "Every single organ in our body is linked with the circulatory system. This could potentially allow researchers to unravel the causes and treatments for a variety of vascular diseases."
Another author of this study and a postdoctoral research fellow at IMBA, Reiner Wimmer said, "Our organoids resemble human capillaries to a great extent, even on a molecular level, and we can now use them to study blood vessel diseases directly on human tissue."
According to an analysis, 420 million (42 crores) people are affected by diabetes worldwide. The major symptoms of diabetes arise due to changes in blood vessels. This leads to weakened blood circulation or low supply of oxygen in tissues.
With the development of this new ground-breaking model of organoids, these arising vascular changes can be handled.
Also, diabetes shows an irregular thickening of the membrane at the basement. It makes it difficult to deliver the necessary nutrients to tissues. This causes many health impairments such as strokes, kidney failure, blindness, or heart attacks.
The cells of organoids can divide indefinitely to further create other cells during their progeny. Scientists have now learned to develop the perfect environment for the stem cells to follow their genetic instructions. They can self-organize the tiny structures of organoids that look like the miniature organs.
While conducting the study, researchers relocated the organoids into mice. It was found that organoids grew into functional human blood vessels. It had arteries and capillaries as well.
On a petri dish, the researchers created a "diabetic" environment and kept blood vessel organoids in that. The massive development of the membrane was detected in the vascular organoids which are similarly observed in diabetic patients.
The scientists failed to find any chemical compound or anti-diabetic medications to stop the thickening of the blood vessels. However, an inhibitor known as γ-secretase was found in the body. γ-secretase is a type of enzyme. It prohibits the stiffening of the blood vessel walls that can be useful to treat diabetic patients.
This engineered technology can be an important step to prevent the changes in blood vessels. Eventually, this can result in low death rate as the majority of the deaths are being recorded due to vascular diseases.
The research will also make a way for growing functional human vascular system in other species. Such a study will lead to developing new tests and treatments for the patients.