Annalee Newitz writes:
It’s the next step on the path to robust tissue engineering and synthetic meat. Researchers today announced that they’d used special progenitor cells to grow human blood vessels inside mice. The vessels grew after scientists injected the cells into the mice, forming a “ball” of self-assembled veins that connected to each other and pumped blood. The next steps could be transplanting these blood vessels, or using progenitor cells to grow vessels in engineered muscles or organs.
It really is weird. According to Eureka Alert:
“What’s really significant about our study is that we are using human cells that can be obtained from blood or bone marrow rather than removing and using fully developed blood vessels,” said Joyce Bischoff, Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston.
The researchers combined two different types of progenitor cells in a culture dish of nutrients and growth factors, then washed off the nutrients and implanted the cells into mice with weakened immune systems. Once implanted, the progenitor cell mixture grew and differentiated into a small ball of healthy blood vessels.