Bioengineered Vessel Evaluated in Research Study

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December 1, 2016

Pulse Magazine – Vascular surgeon Michael Curi, MD, MPA, successfully implanted a bioengineered blood vessel in a 40-year-old male patient with kidney failure as part of a Phase 111 clinical research study. The surgery was performed at Newark’s University Hospital (UH) in August 2016.

This implant, called a human acellular vessel (HAV), is generated from human tissue. To make the implant or vessel, vascular cells from human donors are grown in tissue culture and then placed on a degradable frame or scaffold. As the tissue grows, the scaffold degrades. This tissue is then cleansed so that it contains no human cells. The end product is a bioengineered acellular blood vessel that can be implanted in patients.

Patients with kidney failure require dialysis several times a week to filter waste, salt, and extra fluids from the blood to maintain a healthy balance. Ongoing dialysis involves frequent needle sticks which can damage a patient’s blood vessels, so synthetic grafts are often necessary. “Synthetic grafts are commonly used and can cause patients great difficulty because they frequently become infected and are prone to clotting,” says Curi, who is an associate professor of surgery at NJMS and chief of UH’S Division of Vascular Surgery.

Curi says the bioengineered vessel offers several advantages over the synthetic one. “Over time the patient’s own cells will grow into the bioengineered vessel,” he explains. “We think this HAV will last longer, cause fewer complications, and significantly improve the quality of life for dialysis patients.” The UH patient came through the procedure well. He’ll continue to have hemodialysis and will be monitored closely by physicians.

This multicenter study is anticipated to be the largest of any bioengineered vascular tissue to date. Biotech company Humacyte, Inc. manufactures the HAV.

NJMS Alum Named Family Physician of the Year
One of NJMS’s own, Maria Ciminelli, MD’96, received the New Jersey Family Physician of the Year award from the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians at a NJAFP’s Scientific Assembly held in June. This award is presented each year to a physician who demonstrates compassionate, comprehensive care.

Ciminelli is an assistant professor of family medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and program director of the RWJMS family medicine residency program at CentraState Medical Center, an acute care hospital in Freehold, NJ. She completed her family medicine residency at RWJMS. Her special interests include curriculum development, evidence-based medicine, adolescent medicine, pediatrics, chronic disease management and practice management.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Expands Reach to Newark
A new partnership between Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and University Hospital (UH) will result in the expansion of National Cancer Institute (NCl)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center services to Newark. This new entity, called Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital, held its official launch on September 20.

The multidisciplinary service line at the UH cancer center includes care provided by Rutgers Cancer Institute oncologists, which augments radiation oncology services that have been provided by the Institute for the past seven years, and surgical oncology services provided by NJMS faculty members. Among the new care options are additional clinical trials and increased screening, treatment and education, with a special focus on underserved populations.