This new research might have major implications for our efforts to create artificial tissues and organs for transplants. At Queen Mary University of London, researchers are assembling proteins and peptides into tubular structures that resemble blood vessels. The method isn’t a printing technique, but rather a way to combine peptides and proteins to self-assemble in a controlled way at the point where they’re brought together.
While this new tissue creation process may work to create artificial vessels, the researchers also think it can be used to develop other tissue types such as the blood-brain barrier, which can greatly accelerate research by letting scientists easily play with it in the lab.
From the study abstract in Nature Chemistry:
Here we report on a dynamic system that emerges from the conformational modification of an elastin-like protein by peptide amphiphiles and with the capacity to access, and be maintained in, non-equilibrium for substantial periods of time. The system enables the formation of a robust membrane that displays controlled assembly and disassembly capabilities, adhesion and sealing to surfaces, self-healing and the capability to undergo morphogenesis into tubular structures with high spatiotemporal control. We use advanced microscopy along with turbidity and spectroscopic measurements to investigate the mechanism of assembly and its relation to the distinctive membrane architecture and the resulting dynamic properties. Using cell-culture experiments with endothelial and adipose-derived stem cells, we demonstrate the potential of this system to generate complex bioactive scaffolds for applications such as tissue engineering.
Study in Nature Chemistry: Co-assembly, spatiotemporal control and morphogenesis of a hybrid protein–peptide system