A team of researchers from UCL has won a £500,000 grant to develop a synthetic artery that mimics a natural artery – and could revolutionise the treatment of coronary heart disease.
Professor Alexander Seifalian (UCL Surgery and Interventional Science) and Professor George Hamilton (UCL Surgery and Interventional Science & Royal Free Hospital) and their team will use the Wellcome Trust grant to take their work from the laboratory to a pre-clinical trial.
The team has been developing a new nanomaterial with mechanical properties similar to that of human arteries.
The nanomaterial’s inner surface has been modified to attract stem cells from blood circulating inside the body.
It converts these primary cells to endothelial cells, a type of cell that covers the interior of the natural blood vessel and protects it from blockage.
The breakthrough offers hope for sufferers of heart disease who are unable to donate suitable substitute blood vessels for bypass surgery.
Professors Seifalian and Hamilton, experts in nanotechnology, regenerative medicine and vascular surgery, explained: “Coronary heart disease is a condition where one or more blood vessels of the heart become narrowed or blocked. This causes the heart muscle to be starved of oxygen causing damage often leading to a heart attack and muscle death. This interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body, leading to infirmity and possibly death.
“The current treatment of the disease is to create a new route for blood to circulate, most often by balloon dilatation and stent (stent angioplasty). In many patients however this intervention cannot be performed and in this situation an operation called bypass surgery is needed which can either use substitute blood vessels from another part of the patient or made from a plastic material.
read more: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09081101
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