Regenerative medicine therapies often require the growth of functional, stable blood vessels at the site of an injury. Using synthetic polymers called hydrogels, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have been able to induce significant vasculature growth in areas of damaged tissue.
"This study shows that bio-artificial materials are suitable for promoting vasculature growth and remodeling," said lead author on the study Andrs Garca, professor and Woodruff Faculty Fellow in Georgia Tech's Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. "Because hydrogels are very compatible with biological tissues, they are a promising therapeutic delivery vehicle to improve treatment of peripheral artery disease, ischemic heart disease, and survival of cell and tissue transplants."
Details of the research were published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on December 21, 2009. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) through the Georgia Tech/Emory Center (GTEC) for the Engineering of Living Tissues, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the American Heart Association.
As part of the research, Garca and Georgia Tech graduate student Edward Phelps tailored the biochemical and mechanical properties of polyethylene glycol-based hydrogel matrices to enable vasculature to form in and around them. First, the researchers incorporated specific chemical cross-links into the gels so that they would maintain their structural integrity and only degrade in the presence of enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases that are typically expressed by invading cells. They also incorporated into the matrices a protein, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which stimulates the growth of blood vessels.
"Incorporating these cross-links controlled
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Georgia Institute of Technology Research News