PITTSBURGH, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say muscle cells from baboons could be used to grow human arteries to treat people whose arteries have been damaged by disease.
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh say the arteries, presently being tested in small animals, could help patients with arteries affected by coronary disease or obesity, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Monday.
Currently, patients with damaged arteries rely on transplants of small arteries from other parts of the body, a procedure with drawbacks that could be avoided if arteries can be grown successfully, researchers said.
"There is a large demand for arteries," Yadong Wang, a bioengineering professor at the university, said.
Scientists can harvest millions of cells for the research from a tiny sample of baboon tissue, so animals need not be sacrificed, Wang said.
The goal, he said, is to perfect the process and product with baboon cells and then replicate it with cells from a human donor so that a patient could provide the cells to grow an artery that could be transplanted.