University of Texas at Austin researchers have demonstrated a new and more effective method for regrowing blood vessels in the heart and limbs a research advancement that could have major implications for how we treat heart disease, the leading cause of death in the Western world.
The treatment method developed by Cockrell School of Engineering Assistant Professor Aaron Baker could allow doctors to bypass surgery and instead repair damaged blood vessels simply by injecting a lipid-incased substance into a patient. Once inside the body, the substance stimulates cell growth and spurs the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones.
The method has been tested successfully on rats, and findings of the study were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Others have tried using growth factors to stimulate vessel growth in clinical trials and have not been successful," said Baker, a faculty member in the school's Department of Biomedical Engineering. "We think that a major reason for this is that previous methods assumed the diseased tissues retained the ability to respond to a growth stimulus. Our method basically delivers extra components that can restore growth factor responsiveness to the tissue of patients with long-standing clinical disease."
The ability to regrow blood vessels could prove crucial to treating chronic myocardial ischemia disease, which affects up to 27 million patients in the U.S. and leads to a reduction of blood flow in the heart and lower limbs ultimately, causing organ dysfunction and failure.
Central ischemia, which effects the heart, occurs when the coronary vessels that feed blood to the heart become blocked or narrow due to a buildup of fatty deposits, or plaques. Such plaques are typically the result of a prolonged unhealthy diet or smoking, and factors like age, high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risks of the disease, Baker said.
|Contact: Melissa Mixon|
University of Texas at Austin