The use of vascular bypass grafts in patients is not new. The high prevalence of atherosclerosis has seen them being used in the treatment of some of the 800 000 cases of myocardial infarction in the UK. So, is there a need for tissue-engineered blood vessels if there is a functional prosthetic alternative? While this may hold true for vessels with high-blood-flow rates1, the patency rates of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (Dacron®) and expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) grafts are less satisfactory at lower flow rates. Given the limitations with synthetic materials alone, a biological or bio-hybrid vascular prosthesis could provide us with the ideal blood-vessel substitute.

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