Scientists have found a way of growing new blood vessels inside the body. They used cells derived from skin, that when injected into a damaged leg in massive numbers, moulded into the shape of a small blood vessel. This improved blood supply to withered muscles, giving them a new lease of life.

The technique, developed at King’s College London, could also be used to repair the damage done by heart attacks. Professor Qingbo Xu, who is funded by the British Heart Foundation, started by taking human skin cells. Using a cocktail of genes and chemicals, he turned them into early-stage blood vessel cells, programmed to form blood vessels.

He then injected half a million of these cells into the hind leg of a mouse whose foot muscles had been damaged due to poor circulation. These formed a small blood vessel that ferried blood to the damaged muscle, allowing it to repair itself, enabling the creature to put some weight on its foot, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

The professor hopes that injected into the heart, the same cells could be used to heal damage done by heart attacks.

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