PITTSBURGHWith the University of Pittsburgh's development of a cell-free, biodegradable artery graft comes a potentially transformative change in coronary artery bypass surgeries: Within 90 days after surgery, the patient will have a regenerated artery with no trace of synthetic graft materials left in the body.
Research published online June 24 in Nature Medicine highlights work led by principal investigator Yadong Wang, a professor in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering and School of Medicine's Department of Surgery, who designed grafts that fully harness the body's regenerative capacity. This new approach is a philosophical shift from the predominant cell-centered approaches in tissue engineering of blood vessels.
"The host site, the artery in this case, is an excellent source of cells and provides a very efficient growth environment," said Wang. "This is what inspired us to skip the cell culture altogether and create these cell-free synthetic grafts."
Wang and fellow researchers, Wei Wu, a former Pitt postdoctoral associate (now a postdoctoral associate at Yale University), and Robert Allen, a PhD student in bioengineering, designed the graft with three properties in mind. First, they chose a graft materialan elastic polymer called PGSthat is resorbed quickly by the body. Then, they examined graft porosity and selected parameters that allow immediate cell infiltration. Wang's team borrowed a procedure developed by another team of Pitt researchersDavid Vorp, professor of bioengineering and surgery, and William R. Wagner, interim director of the University's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a Pitt professor of surgery, bioengineering, and chemical engineeringwrapping the vascular graft with a fibrous sheath to trap the cells. Finally, Wang and his fellow researchers wanted a coating for the grafts that would reduces blood clotting and bind many growth factors, so they used heparin, a molecule that does just th
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University of Pittsburgh