University of Washington bioengineers have developed the first structure to grow small human blood vessels, creating a 3-D test bed that offers a better way to study disease, test drugs and perhaps someday grow human tissues for transplant.
The engineered microvessels can form bends and T-junctions. The blue dots are the nuclei of the endothelial cells in the vessel walls, and the cell junctions are red. When smooth muscle cells (green) are introduced, they wrap and tighten around the vessels like they do in the human body.
Credit: Y. Zheng, U. of Washington
The findings are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"In clinical research you just draw a blood sample," said first author Ying Zheng, a UW research assistant professor of bioengineering. "But with this, we can really dissect what happens at the interface between the blood and the tissue. We can start to look at how these diseases start to progress and develop efficient therapies."
Zheng first built the structure out of the body's most abundant protein, collagen, while working as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University. She created tiny channels and injected this honeycomb with human endothelial cells, which line human blood vessels.
During a period of two weeks, the endothelial cells grew throughout the structure and formed tubes through the mold's rectangular channels, just as they do in the human body.
When brain cells were injected into the surrounding gel, the cells released chemicals that prompted the engineered vessels to sprout new branches, extending the network. A similar system could supply blood to engineered tissue before transplant into the body.
After joining the UW last year, Zheng collaborated with the Puget Sound Blood Center to see how this research platform would work to transport real blood.
The engineered vessels could transport human blood smoothly, even around corners. And when treated with an inflammatory compound the vessels developed clots, similar to what real vessels do when they become inflamed.
The system also shows promise as a model for tumor progression. Cancer begins as a hard tumor but secretes chemicals that cause nearby vessels to bulge and then sprout. Eventually tumor cells use these blood vessels to penetrate the bloodstream and colonize new parts of the body.
When the researchers added to their system a signaling protein for vessel growth that's overabundant in cancer and other diseases, new blood vessels sprouted from the originals. These new vessels were leaky, just as they are in human cancers.
"With this system we can dissect out each component or we can put them together to look at a complex problem. That's a nice thing—we can isolate the biophysical, biochemical or cellular components. How do endothelial cells respond to blood flow or to different chemicals, how do the endothelial cells interact with their surroundings, and how do these interactions affect the vessels' barrier function? We have a lot of degrees of freedom," Zheng said.
The system could also be used to study malaria, which becomes fatal when diseased blood cells stick to the vessel walls and block small openings, cutting off blood supply to the brain, placenta or other vital organs."I think this is a tremendous system for studying how blood clots form on vessels walls, how the vessel responds to shear stress and other mechanical and chemical factors, and for studying the many diseases that affect small blood vessels," said co-author Dr. José López, a professor of biochemistry and hematology at UW Medicine and chief scientific officer at the Puget Sound Blood Center.
Other co-authors are UW physics senior Samuel Totorica; Abraham Stroock, Michael Craven, Nak Won Choi, Michael Craven, Anthony Diaz-Santana and Claudia Fischbach at Cornell; Junmei Chen at the Puget Sound Blood Center; and Barbara Hempstead at Weill Cornell Medical College.The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Human Frontier Science Program and Cornell University.
Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Observing the cell's protein factories during self-assembly
15.06.2018 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Scientists unravel molecular mechanisms of Parkinson's disease
13.06.2018 | The Francis Crick Institute
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
15.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
15.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
15.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering