Advance could solve major challenge in tissue engineering
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have successfully induced the growth of new networks of functional blood vessels in mice. In the March 11 issue of Nature, the team from the Steele Laboratory in the MGH Department of Radiation Therapy describes how their technique led to the growth of long-lasting blood vessels without the need for genetic manipulation. The accomplishment may help solve one of the primary challenges in tissue engineering: providing a blood supply for newly grown organs.
"The biggest challenge has been making blood vessels that will last," says Rakesh Jain, PhD, director of the Steele Laboratory and senior author of the Nature report. "Most artificially grown vessels die quickly, but these have survived successfully for a year – which is about half a lifetime for mice." He and his colleagues also note that the introduction of genes to induce vessel growth and survival could increase the risk of cancer.
The research team began with two types of blood-vessel-related human cells – endothelial cells that form the lining of blood vessels, taken from the veins of umbilical cords, and precursors to the perivascular cells that form the supporting outer layer of blood vessels. These cells were placed into a collagen gel and grown in culture for about a day. Then the gels were implanted into cranial windows, transparent compartments placed on the brains of mice. Similar gels containing only endothelial cells were also prepared and implanted.
Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
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