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Japanese team aims to test 3D-printed blood vessel transplants on kidney patients

A 3D-printed blood vessel is seen in this photo provided by Saga University professor Koichi Nakayama.

SAGA -- A research team at Saga University in western Japan submitted a plan to transplant 3D-printed artificial blood vessels into dialysis patients to a review committee for a clinical trial.

According to Department of Regenerative Medicine and Biomedical Engineering professor Koichi Nakayama, transplantation of a 3D-printed living tissue created only from the patients' skin cells is rarely seen worldwide. The plan was submitted to Gamagori City Hospital in Aichi Prefecture in central Japan.

Equipment that resembles a kenzan, or needle-point holder used for Japanese flower arrangements, is seen in this photo taken at Saga University in the city of Saga, on April 23, 2019. (Mainichi/Shizuka Takebayashi)

In their study, Nakayama and others used a 3D bioprinter developed by Shibuya Corp. in the city of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast, which was sold by Tokyo-based Cyfuse Biomedical K.K.

To make an artificial blood vessel, researchers grow about 10,000 cellular aggregates from the patients' skin cells, which are impaled onto equipment that resembles kenzan, a needle-point holder used for Japanese flower arrangements, according to the 3D data of a blood vessel. Within a few days, the arranged aggregates combine into a blood vessel with a length of about 5 centimeters and a diameter of around 5 to 6 millimeters.

Researchers plan to replace the blood shunt used when purifying a kidney patient's blood in dialysis treatment with the artificial blood vessel. Though problems including poor blood circulation due to blockages can occur when using such resin shunts, it is assumed that 3D-printed blood vessels will improve these issues.

(Japanese original by Shizuka Takebayashi, Saga Bureau)

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