An international consortium of researchers led by the University of Sydney has developed technology to enable the fabrication of materials that mimic the structure of living blood vessels, with important implications for the future of surgery.
Preclinical tests found that after transplanting the manufactured blood vessel into mice, the body accepted the material, with new cells and tissue growing in the right places, essentially transforming it into a ‘living blood vessel’.
Lead author Professor Anthony Weiss of the Charles Perkins Center said that while others have tried to build blood vessels with varying degrees of success before, this is the first time scientists have seen vessels develop with such a high degree of similarity. with the complex structure of nature. blood vessels that are produced.
“Over time, nature turns this manufactured tube into one that looks, behaves and functions like a real blood vessel,” said Professor Weiss.
“The technology’s ability to recreate the complex structure of biological tissues shows that it has the potential not only to make blood vessels to aid in surgery, but also lays the groundwork for the future creation of other synthetic tissues, such as valves.” cardiac”.
Co-author Dr. Christopher Breuer, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, US, said he is excited about the potential of the research for children.
“Currently, when children suffer from an abnormal vessel, surgeons have no choice but to use synthetic vessels that work well for a short time, but children inevitably need additional surgeries as they grow older. This new technology provides the exciting foundation for manufactured blood vessels that continue to grow and develop over time.
Lead author and bioengineer Dr Ziyu Wang, from the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney, pioneered the technology that was developed as part of his PhD. He built on earlier work by Dr. Suzanne Mithieux, also at the Charles Perkins Center.
Natural blood vessel walls comprise a series of concentric rings of elastin (a protein that gives vessels elasticity and the ability to stretch), like nested dolls. That makes the rings elastic, which allows the blood vessels to expand and contract with the blood flow.
This new technology means that, for the first time, these important concentric rings of elastin can develop naturally within the walls of implanted tubes.
Unlike current manufacturing processes for synthetic materials used for surgery, which can be long, complex, and expensive, this new manufacturing process is fast and well-defined.
“These synthetic cups are elegant because they are made from only two natural materials that are well tolerated by the body,” said Dr. Wang.
“Tropoelastin (the natural building block of elastin) is packed into an elastic sheath that gradually dissipates and promotes the formation of highly organized natural mimics of working blood vessels.”
The fabricated tube can also be safely stored in a sterilized plastic bag until transplant.
The study led by the Charles Perkins Center and the University of Sydney School of Science is published in the international journal advanced materials.
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