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Vein Grown From Her Own Stem Cells Saves 10-Year-Old 169

Posted by samzenpus
from the vat-kiddies dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about a milestone in stem cell medicine. "A ten year old girl became the first person in the world to get a major blood vessel replaced by one grown using her own stem cells. The 10-year-old from Sweden had a blockage of a vein from her liver. The doctors decided to give her a new vein instead of a liver transplant or giving her a vein from her own body, Associated Press reported. The team from University of Gothenburg first took 9 cm vein segment from a dead man and stripped all living cells from it, leaving behind only a protein structure. They later reconstructed the vein by using cells from the girl's own bone marrow. The new graft was then put in the girl's body two weeks later."
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Vein Grown From Her Own Stem Cells Saves 10-Year-Old

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  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:28PM (#40329941) Homepage Journal

    Since the donor vessel was stripped down to nothing but a protien structure is there any reason a non-human vein couldn't be donated? Cattle are slaughtered in bulk for instance, I don't see why a protien structure from one of those couldn't be used.

    • by Githaron (2462596) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:33PM (#40329991)

      What does it matter? There are plenty of dead people around.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Oh great, another "save the children" movement. When are government regulators and school boards going to learn that the children don't need saving?
      • by pecosdave (536896) * on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:37PM (#40330027) Homepage Journal

        Agreed, but not all of them consent to donate.

        Cattle don't get a say in the matter. If we start doing this in bulk we would be better off finding commonly slaughtered animals that can provide the structure rather than consenting humans to meet demand. Granted, even if we don't go the animal route the percentage of compatible donors just skyrocketed for those that can wait a while for an organ - such as my own cousin who is awaiting a heart.

        • by Algae_94 (2017070) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:41PM (#40330085) Journal
          Cows would have to be slaughtered in a way to save a certain vein for a procedure like this. Current slaughterhouse practices would not lead to much useable matter for medical procedures like this. It's do-able, but would take some changes. That's assuming the cow vein is indeed compatible.
          • Then there will be ranchers who make money slaughtering the animal to recover the vein as well as sell the meat.

            However, I think it would be more likely that Pigs would be genetically altered to have the correct kind of vein.

            Eventually the protein structure will just be grown or printed on demand

            • by reverseengineer (580922) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:45PM (#40330651)
              The structure of the vein isn't a major issue in this particular case- the procedure was a bypass, so all that was needed was a tube of tissue that could take blood from one vein to another. This procedure, called a meso Rex bypass, has been done with a variety of vein sources already. The cadaver donor vein used here was an iliac vein, which normally returns blood from the legs. Issues of structure or size do come into play when other types of grafts or transplants are considered, but I think, as other comments have noted, that in this case generation of the vein from stem cells was done for immunological reasons, as even decellularized animal tissue can provoke an immune response.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @09:19PM (#40330881)

              There's a ranch in California that provides medical grade collagen from their cattle. Their "slaughterhouse" is comparable with a high-end operating room. They need to take extreme precautions in raising the cattle to produce the absolutely best product possible - totally organic, no contact with cattle not under the control of the ranch (they actually lease all surrounding lands and leave them unused to ensure that), etc. It's very expensive to raise cattle this way. But it is very lucrative. Lucrative enough that the meat is a by-product and only adds marginally to the bottom line. I imagine if this were to become common place, similar ranches could be set up. Granted, it moves away from the local slaughterhouse diverting part of their cull, but it's do-able.

          • Even though the researchers 'stripped' the vein, there certainly are proteins left and they may be antigenic (create an immune response, something you don't want in this instance). We use pig heart valves in humans without much problem so our little porcine friend might be a better fit.

            That said, this is pretty investigational, they may have wanted to decrease the number of variables involved or may simply have had a better protocol for using a human substrate. If this turns out to work well, you can bet

            • Of course, the theoretical end game of this is being able to take a donor heart, strip it down to the protein structure, and grow a new heart with the recipients cells, thus drastically reducing the rejection issues.
              And, as other posters have noted, it may be possible to eventually use an animal donor (such as a pig, as with the heart valves).
              Imagine being able to harvest pig hearts from the normal food production process, strip them down, and make new hearts for transplant. Far enough down the line, it
              • Simply saying "it's because you're fat!" is an oversimplification. Even very healthy people get heart disease. That said, obesity itself is a medical problem; if losing weight was easy, everyone would be skinny. Obviously it's not simple case of everyone trying to live better. Regardless of 'lifestyle choice', not everyone has access to quality food or the opportunity to get the execise they need in the week (lord knows I don't!).

                I think, however, that what you're trying to say is that health problems
                • by rjstanford (69735)

                  Regardless of 'lifestyle choice', not everyone has access to quality food or the opportunity to get the execise they need in the week (lord knows I don't!).

                  Highly recommended: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo [youtube.com] - bottom line, you probably do have that opportunity, and a little movement goes a very (very) long way.

                • by mcgrew (92797) *

                  Simply saying "it's because you're fat!" is an oversimplification. Even very healthy people get heart disease. That said, obesity itself is a medical problem; if losing weight was easy, everyone would be skinny.

                  Indeed, your genetic makeup is as important as lifestyle, maybe even moreso. I've been thin all my life except when I was on Paxil and gained 40 pounds. When I got off the Paxil it just came off, not only did I never diet, it was an effort to keep some of the weight I'd gained on.

                  A friend of mine was

                  • by Stickerboy (61554)

                    Indeed, your genetic makeup is as important as lifestyle, maybe even moreso.

                    I wouldn't go overboard; genetics is important, but lifestyle is as important or even more so. The three most common causes of premature death in the United States: tobacco, sedentary lifestyle/poor diet, and alcohol [nih.gov].

                    I've been thin all my life except when I was on Paxil and gained 40 pounds. When I got off the Paxil it just came off, not only did I never diet, it was an effort to keep some of the weight I'd gained on.

                    A friend of mine was a construction worker, so he got plenty of excersize and was by no means overweight. Yet he died three years ago at age 42 from a sudden heart attack. Niether my lack of obesity or his heart attack were from lifestyle.

                    If your grandparents all died of heart disease before age 60, you're not likely to live to be 70 no matter how healthy your lifestyle.

                    Let me amend that; if all your grandparents all died of heart disease before age 60, you're likely to have coronary artery disease and will need to be treated, or you're not likely to live to be 70. Medical sciences, especially in cardiology, has advanced significantly s [nejm.org]

                • Wow, sparked quite the discussion on that one. I made that statement as a fat person myself, and i gotta say, you are right, its not a 'lifestyle choice' for all fat people. Myself, i work 9+ hours a day on my feet, walking all day, I avoid ice cream and other sweets as much as i can, buy my weakness for sugary caffeinated drinks seems to be my down-falling. However, there are plenty of people that i see every day (working in a grocery store.) that would loose 50 lbs if they would stop buying hostess cupca
          • by mfwitten (1906728)

            Sounds like a problem for the Free Market to figure out.

          • by nospam007 (722110) *

            "Current slaughterhouse practices would not lead to much useable matter for medical procedures like this."

            Who needs a slaughterhouse? Millions of male milk cattle get shot in the head a day or two after birth, shreddered and transformed into bio-gas because veal use went down after the publishing of the raising conditions in the eighties and never recovered.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @09:03PM (#40330767) Homepage Journal

          consenting humans

          Who would not consent to be an organ donor? I'm curious. I want to know what kind of person says, "No, I don't want any of my parts used to save anyone's life after I die."

          Is it a superstitious thing or something? I'm not joking or trying to provoke. I cannot grasp not being willing to donate one's organs after death.

          • There are also religious reasons not to be a donor. I don't think those of the Jewish or Muslim faiths can donate.
            • There are some Christian sects (?cults?) who can't donate or accept donated cells. From memory the (inaccurately named) Christian Scientists are one. I think (but I'm too tired right now to check) they can accept blood plasma because there's no cells in it.

          • by pecosdave (536896) *

            I used to consent on my drivers license, the people at the DMV were so used to hitting "No" they hit "No" on mine even though I answered "Yes".

            It is no longer an option on the Texas drivers license.

            • by rjstanford (69735)

              It is no longer an option on the Texas drivers license.

              Weird... it was just a few months ago when I renewed mine.

          • consenting humans

            Who would not consent to be an organ donor? I'm curious. I want to know what kind of person says, "No, I don't want any of my parts used to save anyone's life after I die."

            Is it a superstitious thing or something? I'm not joking or trying to provoke. I cannot grasp not being willing to donate one's organs after death.

            There are religious groups that discourage it. It's an area of active argument in Judaism [wikipedia.org]. Here's an article [deseretnews.com] that discusses some different religious opposition. Generally speaking, a lot of religions that posit an afterlife, have individuals within that religion who come to the conclusion that they'll be reincarnated missing their body parts, even though apparently no religions actually say anything like that.

            But it's my belief the main reason is because people think maybe a miracle will happen and they'

          • by operagost (62405)
            People are understandably worried that if they were injured and unable to speak for themselves, they would be allowed to die so that their organs could be harvested. Unlikely, but possible.
            • by PopeRatzo (965947)

              People are understandably worried that if they were injured and unable to speak for themselves, they would be allowed to die so that their organs could be harvested.

              That hadn't occurred to me. It makes sense how that might be a fear of some folks.

        • by Githaron (2462596)

          Agreed, but not all of them consent to donate.

          Assuming this is like the heart and bladder procedure, that I heard about, the pool of potential donors is massively increased by this technology since they no longer have to worry about rejection. That means many more of those that do consent are usable.

        • by Keith111 (1862190)
          Consent to donate is regarding living tissue which bears the risk of them submitting you to painkillerless torture while they remove your organs if there is a misdiagnosis. In this particular instance they used a completely dead person. In the future they should maybe have 2 check boxes to specify which sort of donation you're willing to do. I won't donate my living tissue but after I'm dead I don't really care.
        • Cattle not getting a say in the matter seems like more of an argument for NOT using them...
      • Hahaha, Informative. "I always thought, uhm, dogs lay eggs, and I learned something new today". - Sir Peter Griffin
      • by slazzy (864185)
        To receive a transplant, you'd have to go on anti-rejection drugs which have a lot of problems.
        • by Githaron (2462596)
          According to TFA, this procedure removes the problem of rejection since the organ is made from the patients own cells.
    • by Cryacin (657549) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:34PM (#40330001)
      I am more interested in the fact that her cells were harvested from her bone marrow, rather than gathered from umbilical cord blood and cryogenically stored at several thousand dollars a pop.

      Although it can't be a good news article for their business, it gives the rest of us oldies a bit more hope that we can benefit from stem cells.
      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:56PM (#40330217) Journal

        It's actually not as amazing as it seems... adult stem cells* have been used quite extensively, and for quite awhile. It also has the added advantage of compatibility.

        * yes she's a kid, but they still call 'em adult cells, to distinguish them from the embryonic ones.

      • by Sarius64 (880298)
        Sorry no mod points today. +1 This fact of the process does provide hope that donor organs may be a thing of the past. I saw a documentary where whole lungs and hearts were created with this process. It would be interesting if things like liver replacements could be achieved via bone marrow harvesting.
    • I'd imagine your right but I'm not a biologist. But a human one might have a better form factor making it easier to implant. I love the 21st century.
    • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:42PM (#40330087) Homepage

      Since the donor vessel was stripped down to nothing but a protien structure is there any reason a non-human vein couldn't be donated?

      I know they use animal tissues as scaffolds for some treatments. I was recently reading about the use of stripped extracellular matrix from pigs bladders for treatment on both horses and people.

      http://www.acell.com/acell-products.html [acell.com]

    • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:44PM (#40330103) Journal
      Maybe she was lactose intolerant. :-)

      I see three possible reasons why this was not done:
      1. The vein needs to be a certain shape, and cow veins are shaped incorrectly.
      2. The protein structure of cow veins is different somehow.
      3. D'oh!

      My guess, though, is that this is an experimental process and they went with a tissue type match to reduce the possibility of rejection. Trans-species transplants just adds way too many variables.
      • Number 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DrYak (748999) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:11PM (#40330363) Homepage

        2. The protein structure of cow veins is different somehow.

        Subtle inter-specie difference in the amino acid sequence (and more rarely protein folding) might be recognised by the child's immune system as "foreign" and rejected.

        The best long term solution would be to custom 3D-print the protein structure. But that would require technology which is not available/developed under the time constrains of saving this specific child's life. Thus, the "dead body" option was picked up for being quickly usable.

    • by NEDHead (1651195)

      I want the heart of a LION!!!

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You think small.
        I want two hearts of a lion. One in my chest, the other hidden somewhere.

        • by SomePgmr (2021234)

          Yes! Built like a Klingon.

          Only, instead of battle wounds I'll need the redundancy for my future arteriosclerosis.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You want the heart of a PUSSY ?

    • I thought we could already do that. A woman on Penn and Teller's Bullshit had a cow vein put in her arm to help with dialysis.
      • by Pezbian (1641885)

        Yes, but she has to take immunosuppressive drugs in order to keep the cow vein.

        The girl takes none.

    • by hondo77 (324058) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:02PM (#40330287) Homepage

      This article [guardian.co.uk] touches on that in the last paragraph. In a nutshell: maybe. This is pioneering work so there are a lot of things that need to be evaluated.

    • Since the donor vessel was stripped down to nothing but a protien structure is there any reason a non-human vein couldn't be donated? Cattle are slaughtered in bulk for instance, I don't see why a protien structure from one of those couldn't be used.

      There could be slight differences in protein structure that would be immunologically tricky. It could also just be that(while certainly complex) the paperwork for implanting human-derived material on an experimental basis is much better defined and less risky than the paperwork for heading down to the local slaughterhouse and harvesting some donor material.

      Certainly, for high-value organs that are presently in very short supply, there would be a strong incentive to develop some sort of non cadaver source

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @09:56PM (#40331091)

      (I'm a liver transplant surgeon).

      They could have done this procedure with cadaver iliac vein without the fancy bioprocessing, without immunosuppression. I've done that operation. Allograft vessels and other tissue grafts have been available for years. It's an interesting idea to see if the autologous endothelial cells improve patency, but the procedure itself is nothing remotely newsworthy. I can't believe Lancet accepted the statement that this processing avoided the need for liver transplantation.

      Also, decellularized bovine carotid grafts have also been used in human surgery for many years, usually for dialysis access surgery. The trade name is Artegraft, and I think they are marketed by Johnson and Johnson, but not sure. I don't know if bovine carotid has ever been used for a meso-rex shunt (what this kid had - an uncommon procedure), but they have been used many thousands of times for other vascular surgery.

    • A year and a half ago I watched a public television show which documented the creation of compatible organs. They stripped an incompatible mouse heart of all but the scaffold which was translucent and then seeded it with stem sells from the mouse they wanted to transplant it into. The cells grew into heart cells and the heart started beating in the lab environment. When transplanted into the mouse it worked fine. They suggested that the same thing could be done with pigs hearts to make them compatible w
    • Cow protein != Human protein

      It might work, but in the realm of unknown unknowns, it's probably best to not introduce unnecessary additional risks.

    • by nashv (1479253) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:27AM (#40332079) Homepage

      About a few hundred reasons, the most important of which are
      1. the much larger likelihood of an immune reaction to the collagen-elastin matrix. Human collagen =! Cattle collagen , mainly in terms of glycosylation etc.

      2. Large blood vessels of the body have some degree of specialization, they aren't just pipes. Finding an anatomically compatible cattle vein can be a problem, what with cattle liver being a completely different shape and all that.

      3. As a matter of principle, you really don't want to expose cattle pathogens deep into the human peritoneum, it only encourages them to jump species. and before you say Sterilization, remember that is only a probabilistic process which you can't do too much of non-destructively.

    • by JanneM (7445) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:27AM (#40332349) Homepage

      "Is it necessary the vien come from a dead human?"

      Well, not necessary, but a live human is hard to hold down when you try to cut away a piece of their major blood vessels.

      • Well, not necessary, but a live human is hard to hold down when you try to cut away a piece of their major blood vessels.

        That's what the anesthesiologist is for, silly.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:39PM (#40330057) Homepage Journal

    Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth: Come on, stem cells, work your astounding scientific nonsense!
    Philip J. Fry: Fetal stem cells? Aren't those controversial?
    Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth: In your time, yes. But nowadays... shut up! Besides, these are adult stem cells, harvested from healthy adults whom I've killed for their stem cells.

    • Larry Niven quote (Score:2, Interesting)

      by turkeydance (1266624)
      here's your sign: A criminal's pirated body can save a dozen lives. There is now no valid argument against capital punishment for any given crime; for all such argument seeks to prove that killing a man does society no good.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:52PM (#40330179)

    This is just the kind of awful socialism that happens when the government funds scientific research.

    We need more expensive and less effective procedures which ensure a steady flow of income from the patient.

    The free market would have done a much better job.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "The free market would have done a much better job."
      demonstrably false. The US is behind in this are because we removed federal funding for this research. The free market did not step up.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        no, id say it is slow due to the regulations put in place by the government. No one wants another mengele, but we are way over regulated. You should see the hoops you have to jump through simply as a document management system in the medical field, let alone the actual medical equipment
        • At least some of those regulations, as they pertain to stem cell research, are put in place by a cadre of puppet^H^H^H bureaucrats who have been ordered to believe by their cash handler^H^H^H 'constituents' (wink wink) that STEM CELLS == MOAR ABORTIONS.

      • by iceperson (582205)
        The US spends more than 3 times the next closest country on stem cell research. Government funding of stem cell research even increased during the Bush years. Let's not let the facts get in the way though simply because you don't understand what the policy was and the difference between embryonic stem cells and the kind discussed in the article...
        • by operagost (62405)
          It's truly sad that some idiots modded up this abusive troll while other non-ignorant, insightful comments are left unrecognized.
    • by tomhath (637240) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:10PM (#40330359)
      You mean like the $30+ billion the US spends on medical research? [nih.gov] Oh wait, that doesn't count because it's funded by taxpayers in the evil country you hate so much.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The points were

        1) Only in America do you get a large contingent of people whining about this public expenditure;

        2) America's stem cell research is particularly broken thanks to a strong retard lobby group further diminishing public funding;

        3) To bait some kneejerk Americunt like yourself who obviously choked on his own foreskin when yet another stupid private medical procedure was performed.

      • by melted (227442) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:44PM (#40330641) Homepage

        Someone needs to fund research into gene therapy which would help folks detect sarcasm better.

      • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 14, 2012 @10:21PM (#40331231) Homepage

        There's medical research, then there's stem cell research. "Medical Research" into the next generation of viagra or lipitor is easy as pie to get funded. Drugs like that solve profitable problems, and don't piss off people with the "My Jesus is better than your Jesus" agenda.

        I work for a top five engineering university. Our Biomed Engineering programs (which tend to lean more towards the "Med" side rather than the "engineering" side, but there's definite overlap) are having problems because the state politicians have decided to go sticking their noses into how research dollars can be spent re: stem cells. Prospective faculty are looking elsewhere, and existing research is having to walk a very fine line with the research they can do out of the very real fears that they'll have their funding pulled (or worse). It's a hamstring-ing that we didn't need.

        I'm pretty convinced that if you could find a stem-cell based method of getting a 68 year old state senator a extra two inches of cock, or at least a regular hard-on, we'd have solid gold toilets and flying cars to carry us around campus by the end of the week. Instead we get bible thumpers that represent 500 people from West-Buttfuckia who pool together with like-lettered pals and get themselves convinced that unless they bravely throw themselves in front of us, we'll be shoving babies into blenders. Facts? Who needs them? My major donor's friend's pastor heard that stem cell research causes abortion rates to go up 783%!

        Yeah, I'm bitter.

  • This is why Steam Cell research and Steam Cell usage is a good thing! So to all the opposition to it, how about you walk up to this girl and tell her that she should be dead because it's bad!
  • Oh look (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iceperson (582205) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @09:22PM (#40330903)
    another Slashdot article not about embryonic stem cells where the masses get confused and show their ignorance and anti-American prejudice...
  • One thing I always notice, is that anytime there is an advance, it's always adult stem cells, they never say that they are adult stem cells though.

    In the same way that they always say that the right wing wants to ban stem cell research, leaving off the fetal part.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Embryonic you mean?

      And the right wing DID ban embryonic stem cell research. Wait why am I bothering....if someone is willing to post this ignorance, there is no convincing no matter what the facts are.

      • What was ignorant? Other than an erroneous reference to fetal instead of embryonic, what part of what that OP said was ignorant?
      • by Zirbert (1936162)

        And the right wing DID ban embryonic stem cell research.

        Incorrect. The government declining pay for something is not the same thing as banning it. By your logic, the government has banned my puchasing any more guitars, because I have to pay for them myself.

  • Did I miss something? I was under the impression that there have been multiple experiments converting average cells into stem cells. Was there a conversation at some point like, "Well I suppose we could learn how to make a stem cell bath, OR we could just subject this girl to excruciating pain. To be fair, she's likely already be in a lot of pain, so it wouldn't be THAT much worse..."

  • "...first took 9 cm vein segment from a dead man and stripped all living cells "... "The new graft was then put in the girl's body two weeks later." Can we call it Frankenvein?
  • "My God man, drilling holes in his head is not the answer! The artery must be repaired!" - McCoy

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