Is it possible to ‘knit’ replacement blood vessels?
A new way to replace a patient’s damaged blood vessels may be on its way, as researchers in France are figuring out a way to “knit” new vessels with a collagen-based extracellular matrix.
Inserm researcher Nicolas L’Heureux and his colleagues at Inserm/Université de Bordeaux’s tissue bioengineering unit published a study in Acta Biomaterialia to outline their work in cultivating human cells to obtain extracellular matrix deposits that are high in collagen, which can be cut to form a yarn-type material to replace damaged blood vessels, according to a news release.
“We have obtained thin but highly robust extracellular matrix sheets that can be used as a construction material to replace blood vessels,” L’Heureux said in the release. “The researchers then cut these sheets to form yarn — a bit like that used to make fabric for clothing. The resulting yarn can be woven, knitted or braided into various forms. Our main objective is to use this yarn to make assemblies which can replace the damaged blood vessels”
The researchers sought out matrix deposits that are high in collagen because it makes up the mechanical scaffold of the extracellular matrix in humans. The resulting biological material-based blood vessel replacements are believed by the researchers to have the advantage of being well-tolerated by all patients.
Because collagen does not vary from individual to individual, L’Heureux and his colleagues believe the body won’t reject the replacement vessels as they won’t be seen as “foreign bodies.”
According to the news release, the researchers are now turning toward refining their techniques in the production of the replacement vessels before they move on to animal testing in order to validate the latest hypothesis. The planned step after that would be to move on to clinical trials, they said.