3D Printed Patches with Living Cells Help to Overcome Tiny Blocked Vessels

Thrombotic blockages within blood vessels are a common health problem. When occlusions occur in large vessels, they can be relatively easy to deal with using wires, catheters, balloons, and stents. It is the smaller vasculature, which can be too narrow for intravascular instruments, that is currently nearly impossible to deal with.

Researchers at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) may have developed a technique that may help address tiny blocked vessels by growing new vessels to reestablish blood flow to ischemic tissues.

The team is using 3D printed patches that have endothelial cells within specially made hollow channels that are placed in different patterns. The shapes that the channels are arranged in, be it in crosses, lines, dots, or something else, has significant impact on how well endothelial cells promote angiogenesis.

The team treated lab mice that suffered from hindlimb ischemia using patches with a variety of patterns of endothelial cells. To induce ischemia, a small part of a mouse’s femoral artery is excised. Then, one of the patches is placed in the area where the artery was, and it’s left to do its thing. In the meantime, ultrasound was used to evaluate the broken vessel and the nearby area.

After five days, the results were compared among the mice treated with different shape patches. The researchers discovered that it is simple straight channels lined with endothelial cells that seem to produce the most vascular growth and help to reestablish blood flow to the region.

Study in Nature Biomedical Engineering: 3D-printed vascular networks direct therapeutic angiogenesis in ischaemia…


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