New way to grow blood vessels

New way to grow blood vessels

"A major challenge in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is providing the new tissue with a network of blood vessels, and linking this to the patient's existing blood supply; this is vital for the tissue's survival and integration with adjacent tissues" said the research lead.

Authors describe in the journal Scientific Reports the generation of human platelet lysate gel (hPLG), an extracellular matrix preparation from human platelets able to support the proliferation of endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs) in 2D cultures and the formation of a complete microvascular network in vitro in 3D cultures.

 "By embedding EPCs in a gel derived from platelets, both of which can be isolated from the patient's blood, we have demonstrated the formation of a network of small vessels. What is more, the gel contains a number of different growth factors which can induce existing blood vessels to infiltrate the gel and form connections with the new structures. Combining tissue-specific cells with this EPC-containing gel offers the potential for the formation of fully vascularised, functional tissues or organs, which integrate seamlessly with the patient.” said  the co-author of the paper.
Existing extracellular matrix preparations require addition of high concentrations of recombinant growth factors and allow only limited formation of capillary-like structures. Additional advantages of our approach over existing extracellular matrices are the absence of any animal product in the composition hPLG and the possibility of obtaining hPLG from patients to generate homologous scaffolds for re-implantation.

This discovery has the potential to accelerate the development of regenerative medicine applications based on implantation of microvascular networks expanded ex vivo or the generation of fully vascularised organs.