Researchers at University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign developed an amazing little bandage, which they call a “microvascular stamp”, that promotes angiogenesis while guiding exactly where the vessels should go.
It is imbued with living cells, positioned in a defined pattern, that release growth factors around a wound and cause vessels to grow where intended. The study will be appearing in next month’s issue of Advanced Materials.
From the announcement:
The stamp is nearly 1 centimeter across and is built of layers of a hydrogel made of polyethylene glycol (an FDA-approved polymer used in laxatives and pharmaceuticals) and methacrylic alginate (an edible, Jell-O-like material).
The stamp is porous, allowing small molecules to leak through, and contains channels of various sizes to direct the flow of larger molecules, such as growth factors.
The researchers tested the stamp on the surface of a chicken embryo. After a week the stamp was removed, revealing a network of new blood vessels that mirrored the pattern of the channels in the stamp.
The researchers see many potential applications for the new stamp, from directing the growth of blood vessels around a blocked artery, to increasing the vascularization of tissues with poor blood flow, to “normalizing” blood vessels that feed a tumor to improve the delivery of anti-cancer drugs. Enhancing the growth of new blood vessels in a coordinated pattern after surgery may also reduce recovery time and lessen the amount of scar tissue, the researchers said.
(hat tip: CNet)