MIT’s Technology Review has just profiled a work by biomedical engineers under Dr. Donald Elbert at the Washington University in St. Louis. The group is working on developing a specialised environment, a gel-like material, for endothelial cells to migrate to and to colonise endovascular surface, particularly in small artificial blood vessels coated with the substance.
Here’s how Washington University media people describe recent accomplishments by these engineers:
A team led by Donald Elbert, Ph. D., Washington University assistant professor of biomedical engineering, synthesized the new materials. The materials are about 50 per cent synthetic polymers and 50 per cent protein. The polymer portion of the materials is a derivative of polyethylene glycol that was initially synthesized by Washington University graduate student Evan A. Scott. When a solution of the polymer is mixed with protein at the proper ratio, a chemical reaction leads to the formation of a water-swollen hydrogel.
The materials perform a variety of functions – limiting protein activation, providing cell adhesion cues to the endothelial cells and delivering molecules that enhance endothelial cell migration and survival. The polymer portion limits the activation of blood clotting proteins normally associated with artificial materials, while the protein portion traps a signaling molecule that promotes endothelial cell migration and survival. Endothelial cells grow on the surface of the materials due to the presence of chemically synthesized molecules that specifically bind to adhesion receptors on the cell surface.
In a study published recently in the journal Biomacromolecules, graduate student Bradley K. Wacker demonstrated that the migration speed of endothelial cells on the materials doubles when the signaling lipid sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is delivered from the protein part of the material.
According to Tech Review, coating the inside of artificial blood vessels with Elbert’s gel might result in reliable coronary grafts, thus revolutionising cardiac surgery.
More at MIT Tech Review…
Press release by Washington University…