Two members of the North Carolina congressional delegation visited Duke University Medical Center this week, to observe ongoing research and innovation and discuss developments relating to their work as representatives.
On Tuesday, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), visited the Duke Regional Hospital, where he discussed his efforts to promote Medicaid expansion and toured parts of the hospital, including the Emergency Department, Radiology, Labor and Delivery, and the Durham Rehabilitation Institute.
Then on Wednesday, Representative Howard Coble (R-NC), toured the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Lawson, who performed the first US implantation of a bioengineered blood vessel in 2013. Coble, who chairs the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, also met with the hospital officials to discuss the state of patent troll legislation.
Lawson’s technique aims to improve the lives of dialysis patients and was first used on a patient with end-stage kidney disease.
Using technology developed at Duke and at a spin-off company it started called Humacyte, the vein is engineered by cultivating donated human cells on a tubular scaffold to form a vessel. The vessel is then cleansed of the qualities that might trigger an immune response. In pre-clinical tests, the veins have performed better than other synthetic and animal-based implants.
(Pictured below, Coble and Lawson are interviewed by during Coble's visit Wednesday.)