Long empty hospital corridor (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
New technology to customize grafted tissues that can respond to certain natural forces affecting blood vessels has been developed by researchers at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and in the US.
The scientists also found that matching the structure of the engineered vessels to the structure of the host tissues at the site of implantation helps the tissue implant integration, thus improving the chances that grafted tissues will survive better.
The findings, described by researchers as a breakthrough, were published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Developing functional and mature three-dimensional blood vessel networks in implantable tissues is critical when using these engineered tissues to treat a number of conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and trauma injuries,” said lead researcher Prof. Shulamit Levenberg of the Technion’s department of biomedical engineering.
“Matching the tissue structures will improve the longterm viability and strength of tissue grafts when new blood vessel growth – called ‘angiogenesis’ – can be manipulated and exploited for the purpose of attaining optimal blood supply.”
The Haifa team’s lab studies targeted the question of how vascular networks are regulated by various kinds of “tensile forces” – by stretching the 3D engineered tissues.
“Although mechanical forces play a central role in all biological processes as well as influence the shape and organization of cells, mechanical forces had not been previously investigated in relation to vascular networks in 3D,” explained Levenberg. “Our study used a number of techniques to monitor the impact of tensile forces on vascular network construction and properties.”
This study was conducted in collaboration with Harvard University Prof. Dave Mooney who hosted Levenberg during her sabbatical year. The project was carried out by Dr. Dekel Dado-Rosenfeld, now on post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of her doctoral thesis, under Levenberg’s mentorship.