A scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland has received funding worth $523, 624 (£377,000) from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) to develop a bio-artificial artery for treating cardiovascular diseases.
Department of Biomedical Engineering chancellor’s fellow Dr Junxi Wu received the MRC New Investigator Award.
Dr Junxi will lead a multi-disciplinary group with expertise in vascular biology and bioengineering to develop a bio-artificial artery that imitates a natural one.
The bio-artificial artery will be made using human cells and vascular matrix proteins. It will contain no synthetic materials. If successful, it could potentially be used to bypass blocked arteries in cardiovascular disease patients.
To develop bio-artificial arteries that imitate the morphology as well as function of the natural artery structure, the researcher used a cross-disciplinary approach by integrating 3D cells moulding and 3D bioprinting.
Dr Junxi said: “Successful development of a bio-artificial artery promises a potential new treatment for life-threatening vascular diseases.
“By the end of the project, we want to be confident that the artificial artery functions like a natural artery so that we could move to the next stage clinical development.
“If successful, this approach could also have significant benefits for the reduction of animal testing.”
The university noted that the function and durability of the bio-artificial artery will be analysed in an advanced bio-mimetic perfusion culture system as well as in a mouse model. This will provide the basis for the next-stage large animal trial and clinical translation.
The bio-artificial artery would mostly be advantageous to elderly patients who have lower healing capability and for young children who need vascular implants to grow with the body.
Cardiovascular diseases occur when arteries become blocked, due to various factors, and can cause life-threatening events, including heart attacks and amputations. Replacing the diseased artery with a healthy blood vessel obtained from another part of the body is currently the best treatment.