Researchers from Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) and Vienna Medical University (MedUni Vienna) have developed artificial blood vessels made from a special elastomer material (thermoplastic polyurethanes) with excellent mechanical properties.
The artificial blood vessels are designed to be broken down by the body and replaced with its own tissue. At the end of this restorative process, a natural, fully functional vessel will be once again in place.
Arteriosclerotic vascular disorder is one of the most common causes of death in industrialized countries. A bypass operation is often the only solution. Normally, blood vessels are taken from another part of the patient’s body and used to replace the damaged vessel.
The artificial materials used so far are not fully compatible with body tissue, and the blood vessel can easily become blocked.
To produce the new vascular prostheses, polymer solutions were spun in an electrical field to form very fine threads and wound onto a spool. “The wall of these artificial blood vessels is very similar to that of natural ones,” saysHeinz Schima of the Medical University of Vienna.
The polymer fabric is slightly porous, so it allows a small amount of blood to permeate the material. This enriches the wall with growth factors, encouraging migration of endogenous (body’s own) cells.
The new method has proved successful in experiments with rats. “The rats’ blood vessels were examined six months after insertion of the vascular prostheses,” says Helga Bergmeister of MedUni Vienna.
“We did not find any aneurysms, thromboses, or inflammation. Endogenous cells had colonized the vascular prostheses and turned the artificial constructs into natural body tissue.”
A few more preclinical trials are necessary before the artificial blood vessels can be used in humans, which the researchers expect in a few years.
Image and article via Kurzweilai