AsianScientist (Jun. 12, 2018) – Scientists in China have developed a shape-morphing scaffold that can be used to create small-diameter vascular grafts. They published their findings in Advanced Functional Materials.
Cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of death globally according to the World Health Organization, with more than 17.5 million patients dying from it every year. Coronary artery bypass grafting is one of most effective approaches for treating severe cardiovascular disease. However, patients undergoing the procedure still face the high risks of transplantation surgery and potential complications caused by compliance mismatch.
In recent years, tissue engineering has emerged as a source of functional vascular analogs for treating cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, three-dimensional (3D) endothelialization remains a great challenge for tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs).
In this study, a research team led by Dr. Du Xuemin at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences created a new shape-morphing scaffold, that can be programmed into to a well-defined 3D tubular shape to facilitate the 3D endothelialization of small-diameter vascular grafts.
The researchers first designed and developed a scaffold consisting of two layers that combined a shape memory polymer and an electrospun membrane. Using the unique shape memory property of the polymer, the scaffold could deform from a 2D planar shape to a well-defined 3D tubular shape at the physiological temperature of 37°C.
Endothelial cells seeded homogeneously on the electrospun membrane of the planar bilayer scaffold could therefore be conveniently converted to a vascular-like structure of predetermined tubular shape. The researchers were also able to achieve a desirable 3D spatial organization of endothelial cells in the lumen of the scaffold.
This research not only offers a new method for creating TEVGs, but also offers a potential in vitro endothelium model for the screening of cardiovascular drugs, the researchers said.
“We hope that the universal strategy developed in this study, combining smart materials and conventional tissue engineering scaffolds, can be extended to engineering complex cell-scaffold constructs mimicking the complicated anatomy of various tissues and organs through on-demand programmed deformation,” said Du.
The article can be found at: Zhao et al. (2018) Programmed Shape‐Morphing Scaffolds Enabling Facile 3D Endothelialization.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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