Chinese scientists produced the world's first genetically-engineered human blood vessel cells, providing a promising option for therapeutic use.
The study published on Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell showed that human vascular cell function can be enhanced by editing a single longevity-related gene.
Scientists from the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Peking University and the Institute of Zoology of CAS targeted a gene called FOXO3, an important regulator to delay cellular aging, resist stresses and enhance cardiovascular balance.
Compared with those of wildtype cells, the genetically-enhanced vascular cells could efficiently promote vascular repair and regeneration, increasing resistance to oxygen-causing injury, according to the study.
The technique can also resist the cells' transformation into tumors. The risk of tumor transformation used to be a major concern for the application of the gene-editing technology.
The researchers tested it in a mouse model with blood-shortage or ischemic injury and found that those cells promoted vascular regeneration and resisted tumor transformation both in vitro and in vivo.
They expected to use gene-editing strategies in the future to produce high-quality, safe human vascular cell grafts in a large-scale and standardized manner.