25 May 2016
Tissue regeneration and complete organ engineering for transplantation could become more straightforward as scientists have developed a new technique to produce an entire network of blood vessels to support the new organ, without fear of rejection.
An inability to grow new blood vessels is a major limitation for regenerative medicine; successfully linking to a patient's existing blood supply is vital for the tissues' survival and integration. Growing a brand new network of blood vessels would have a massive benefit for transplant patients.
Current methods to grow blood vessels are capable of producing the smaller capillary vessels but are insufficient. Alternative methods which use synthetically created scaffolding, or animal products have had only limited success.
A new technique, pioneered by scientists from the University of Bath looks to change that. Their approach uses cells derived from the hosts own body to grow a new network of blood vessels, reducing the risk of rejection. Using a combination of platelets from the host’s own blood and endothelial progenitor cells, the team is able to build a scaffold for the growth of new blood vessels, and is able to seamlessly integrate with the existing vascular system.
In the press release, Dr Paul de Bank, co-author of the paper argues that the discovery "has the potential to accelerate the development of regenerative medicine applications." Whilst Professor Peter Weissberg, from the British Heart Foundation, who part funded the research, is quoted as saying the development could help reach the foundation’s "goal to mend a broken heart and beat heart failure."