It is not an uncommon procedure to surgically replace a clogged artery with an engineered replacement. Virginia Commonwealth University claims that they have developed a promising new material for this purpose:
The material is a blend of polydioxanone (PDO), a synthetic biodegradable polymer that has been used in suture materials for years, and elastin fibers, used to enhance elasticity and bioactivity of the graft. Elastin, a natural polymer, is also a major component of the arterial wall and is critical to the graft in providing a base for the cells to recognize and interact with the body. Using a technique known as electrospinning, researchers were able to manipulate the PDO-elastin composite into a conduit, or hose, for use as a small diameter vascular graft.
“We have created a vascular graft with a combination of strength and bioactivity – two things we need to maintain and regenerate the graft. Although the body is the best bioreactor for tissue regeneration or wound healing, we hope this new material will be recognized by the body as an environment conducive for regeneration,” said lead author Gary Bowlin, Ph.D., the Harris professor of biomedical engineering in the VCU School of Engineering.
According to Bowlin, the composition of the material reinforces the graft’s mechanical strength, which is critical in order to hold the blood pressure and forces while the regeneration process is taking place. The PDO-elastin blend undergoes slow degradation and causes few adverse reactions compared with previous materials used for the same purpose, he said. The purpose of the new material would be to help a patient regenerate a new artery. If it works as designed the researchers hope that at six months post-surgery, there would be no more synthetic structure left, he said.
The materials currently available for vascular grafts are not ideal, the most popular of which is ePTFE (Teflon…expanded polytetraflouroethylene if you’re really curious), which has been used since 1975 and remains in the body forever once implanted, potentially leading to clots and complications later on. We’re hopeful that this new material will become a succesful replacement.
Read the press release here…