The Durham company sends engineered blood vessels to Ukraine to help war wounded

DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – An experimental medical product being manufactured by a Durham biotech company could save lives in Ukraine.

Packages of artificial blood vessels have just arrived in the country to help treat war wounded.

Humacyte uses human cells to make blood vessels in its Durham laboratory. The vessels are currently in clinical trials, but when a Ukrainian surgeon asked the company to send them to the war zone, they knew they had to try.

“We are the only company in the world that uses human cells to create human replacement tissue and to produce that tissue on a commercial scale,” said Dr. Laura Niklason, Founder and CEO of Humacyte.

The company studies the vessels in clinical trials, but the war in Ukraine has left surgeons there in dire need of anything that could save lives.

“In March, we received our first request from a Ukrainian surgeon at a front-line hospital,” Niklason said.

Humacyte worked with the FDA and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to ship 30 of the constructed vessels to six hospitals in Ukraine.

“Many of the logistical hurdles involved in shipping a medical product to a conflict zone were at least as difficult as any other part of it,” Niklason noted.

The other challenge was to ensure Ukrainian surgeons could use the vessels.

“We had to train them on the ship how to use it and how to take care of your patients. We’ve actually been training a lot in Ukrainian over the past few weeks,” said Niklason.

The packages containing the vessels recently arrived in Kyiv, in the hands of grateful medical teams.

“For me it was kind of amazing that we could pull this off at all, that we could bring ships into the country, into a conflict area,” Niklason marveled.

Now, as Ukrainian doctors are working desperately to save lives, they’ve crafted a new tool in the triangle.

The ships are still experimental, and while obtaining information in a war zone isn’t easy, Humacyte hopes to track the cases of people receiving the ships and see how they’re doing. The Durham company sends engineered blood vessels to Ukraine to help war wounded


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