Synthetic biodegradable blood vessels have been created by Australian scientists, thereby eliminating the need for patients to donate their own.
Soon, patients undergoing lifesaving bypass surgery won’t have to bear the added ordeal of donating their own blood vessels for the procedure. Scientists in Australia have perfected biodegradable blood vessels using a unique polymer material.
The scientists first tested the synthetic blood vessels on mice. These artificial blood vessels functioned perfectly, and over time, they gradually broke down and were seamlessly replaced by the natural variant. Though human trials are still to take place, scientists are confident these artificial blood vessels will make a huge difference in how arteriosclerotic vascular disorders – the leading cause of heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease – are treated.
The blood vessels are made from a viscoelastic elastomer, a special type of synthetic polymer that bears both the required properties of a highly viscous semi-liquid as well as elasticity. These blood vessels are manufactured by spinning polymer solutions in an electrical field to form very fine threads of elastomer. The technique ensures the artificial blood vessels are quite strong, but are quite flexible, just like the natural thing.
Just like in an industry making electrical wires, these synthetic blood vessels can be manufactured in large quantities and stored by winding them on a spool. The elastomer chosen has an added advantage of being porous, allowing tiny amounts of blood to seep through to strengthen and enrich the structure of the walls, explained Robert Liska from Vienna University of Technology’s Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry.
“By selecting very specific molecular building blocks we have succeeded in synthesizing a polymer with the desired properties.”
Requiring the patients to donate healthy blood vessels from other regions of their bodies isn’t an ideal solution. Apart from having to undergo an additional surgery, these transplanted blood vessels stand a high chance of being the epicenter of future blockages.
The rats, who underwent the surgery wherein the scientists inserted the synthetic blood vessels, were examined six months after insertion of the vascular prostheses and the results are very promising, confirmed Helga Bergmeister from the Medical University of Vienna.
“We did not find any aneurysms, thrombosis or inflammation.”
The team is pretty confident about preclinical human trials. These synthetic blood vessels, apart from similar other naturally dissolving prosthesis are successfully allowing humans to recuperate.
[Image Credit | Helga Bergmeister, MedUni Wien, Emergency Live]