This is the first time scientists have observed the formation of vessels so similar to the intricate structure of naturally occurring blood vessels.
An international research collaboration led by the University of Sydney has developed technology that enables the production of materials that reflect the structure of living blood vessels, with major implications for the future of surgery.
Preclinical research showed that after the engineered blood vessel was transplanted into mice, the body accepted it and new cells and tissues began to develop in the appropriate locations, transforming it into a “living blood vessel.”
While others have attempted to create blood vessels in the past with varying degrees of success, lead author Professor Anthony Weiss of the Charles Perkins Center noted that this is the first time scientists have observed vessels growing at such a high rate Similarity to developing complex structure of naturally occurring blood vessels.
“Nature, over time, converts this manufactured tube into one that looks, behaves and functions like a real blood vessel,” Professor Weiss said. “The technology’s ability to replicate the complex structure of biological tissues shows that it has the potential not only to create blood vessels to support surgery, but also to set the stage for the future manufacture of other synthetic tissues, such as heart valves.”
co-author dr. Christopher Breuer, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, USA, said he was excited about the potential of the research for children.
“If children are currently suffering from abnormal vessels, surgeons have no choice but to use synthetic vessels, which work well for a short time, but children will inevitably need surgery as they grow. This new technology provides the exciting foundation for engineered blood vessels, which will continue to grow and develop over time.”
The technology was developed by lead author and bioengineer Dr. Ziyu Wang from the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney as part of his PhD. He built on previous research by Dr. Suzanne Mithieux, also affiliated with the Charles Perkins Centre.
Natural blood vessel walls are made up of concentric rings of elastin (a protein that gives blood vessels elasticity and ability to stretch), much like nesting dolls. As a result, the rings are elastic, allowing blood vessels to change size in response to 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 surgical materials, which can be lengthy, complex and expensive, this new manufacturing process is rapid and well-defined.
“These synthetic vessels are elegant because they are made from only two naturally occurring materials that are well tolerated by the body,” said Dr. wang
“Tropoelastin (the natural building block for elastin) is wrapped in an elastic envelope that gradually dissolves, promoting the formation of highly organized, naturally functioning mimicking blood vessels.”
The tube produced can also be safely stored in a sterile plastic bag until transplanted.
Reference: “Rapid Regeneration of a Neoartery with Elastic Lamellae” by Ziyu Wang, Suzanne M. Mithieux, Howard Vindin, Yiwei Wang, Miao Zhang, Linyang Liu, Jacob Zbinden, Kevin M. Blum, Tai Yi, Yuichi Matsuzaki, Farshad Oveissi, Reyda Akdemir, Karen M. Lockley, Lingyue Zhang, Ke Ma, Juan Guan, Anna Waterhouse, Nguyen TH Pham, Brian S. Hawkett, Toshiharu Shinoka, Christopher K. Breuer, and Anthony S. Weiss September 19, 2022, Advanced Materials.
Ethical approval was obtained from Sydney Local Health District, Australia and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, USA. Professor Anthony Weiss is the founding scientist of Elastagen Pty.Ltd., now sold to Allergan, Inc., an AbbVie company. The authors declare no other competing interests.
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