Canadian Scientists Develop Biomaterial that Helps Grow New Blood Vessels
January 14, 2009 - University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) researchers have successfully grown blood vessels in damaged muscle tissue by injecting a biomaterial developed specifically to attract new cells and support regeneration.
Blood vessel regeneration suggests that the body's own cells might one day be used to repair heart damage and restore function.
Details of the regeneration process are published online in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.08-111054v1).
The UOHI cardiac surgery research team, led by Erik Suuronen, Ph.D., in collaboration with Marc Ruel,M.D., showed that thigh muscles with ischemia (lack of blood flow and oxygen) grew a significant number of new blood vessels when treated with the biomaterial.
"Our goal is to develop safe and effective treatments for coronary artery disease by helping the body rebuild blood vessels and improve heart function. We see this is a breakthrough that may also positively impact diseases such as diabetes, some disorders of the liver and chronic brain ischemia," said Suuronen, principal investigator of the study and research scientist in UOHI's division of cardiac surgery.
The novel biomaterial combines a collagen protein and a molecule known as sialyl Lewisx. The biomaterial forms a biological platform, or 'smart scaffold,' which serves as a mechanism to support cell growth. When injected into damaged muscle, the scaffold attracts special types of cells in the bloodstream called progenitor cells. In turn, the progenitor cells send out homing signals that call other cells to join them in growing new blood vessels.
"The concept of using cell therapy to rebuild blood vessels in and around the heart is proving to be the next frontier in cardiac medicine. This landmark development clearly represents a major step forward in adding to our ability to cure heart failure," said Dr. Ruel, director, Cardiac Surgery Research, UOHI.
Techniques to rebuild blood vessels are also part of a large, diverse UOHI program in cellular and molecular research. The research project in cardiac surgery was supported in part by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
For more information: www.ottawaheart.ca