Hydrogels have been shown before to be a medium that promotes new cell growth, potentially serving as a material that can help repair damaged organs. One major obstacle that has kept hydrogels largely absent from this kind of clinical applications has been the inability of high quality blood vessels to form within the material.
Typically, only endothelial cell linings show up and the immature vessels quickly degrade. This is due to fibers infiltrating injected synthetic materials and preventing the growth of cells and complex cell structures such as vessels. Now researchers at Rice University have seemingly overcome this challenge and have reported in journal ACS Nano on a new hydrogel that does promote high quality angiogenesis.
From the study abstract:
In the current work, we design a peptide-based self-assembling nanofibrous hydrogel containing cell-mediated degradation and proangiogenic moieties that specifically address these challenges. This hydrogel can be easily delivered by syringe, is rapidly infiltrated by cells of hematopoietic and mesenchymal origin, and rapidly forms an extremely robust mature vascular network. Scaffolds show no signs of fibrous encapsulation and after 3 weeks are resorbed into the native tissue. These supramolecular assemblies may prove a vital paradigm for tissue regeneration and specifically for ischemic tissue disease.
Here’s a Rice video about the research:
Study in ACS Nano: Highly Angiogenic Peptide Nanofibers…