London, May 25 (IANS) A team of British researchers has developed a new technique to grow the blood vessels using cells from the patient to cut down significantly the risk of transplant rejection.
“A major challenge in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is providing the new tissue with a network of blood vessels and linking this to the patient’s existing blood supply. This is vital for the tissue’s survival and integration with adjacent tissues,” said Giordano Pula from University of Bath.
But the shortage of adequate patient-derived scaffolds that can support blood vessel growth has been a major limitation for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
Other methods only allow limited formation of small blood vessels such as capillaries which makes tissue less likely to successfully transplant into a patient.
This led the researchers from the University of Bath and Bristol Heart Institute to start the pioneering research.
“By embedding endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in a gel derived from platelets, both of which can be isolated from the patient’s blood, we have demonstrated the formation of a network of small vessels,” said study co-author Paul De Bank.
The gel contains a number of different growth factors which can induce existing blood vessels to infiltrate the gel and form connections with the new structures, according to the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Combining tissue-specific cells with the gel containing EPCs — a type of cell which helps maintain blood vessel walls — offers the potential for the formation of fully vascularised, functional tissues or organs, which integrate seamlessly with the patient.
“This discovery has the potential to accelerate the development of regenerative medicine applications,” Bank said.
The new approach allows components of a person’s own blood to be manipulated to create a scaffold on which new blood vessels could grow.
“This increases the likelihood that the new tissue will be integrated into the patient’s body which, if proven successful with more research, could improve the lives of people affected by heart failure,” Bank added.