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TU Wien Researcher. A research team from the Vienna University of Technology and Vienna Medical University recently developed a polymer-based artificial blood vessel that promotes the natural growth of a new one, so that when the polymer dissolves and a patient is left with a brand new, healthy blood vessel. (via TU Wien)

 

As a nation plagued by heart attacks and heart disease, there is no lack of demand for emerging technology that can save lives. That’s why the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) and Vienna Medical University have spent years developing an artificial blood vessel that encourages the human body to rebuild its own.

 

The new blood vessel is an artificial replica of the real thing, made thin thermoplastic polyurethane thread. The thread was made with polymer solutions into very thin strands, like that of natural blood vessels. The thread is then woven into a small tube, replicating the real thing. The genius, however, is that the polymer thread is slightly porous. Over time, the body will natural reinforce the structure with growth factors. Over time, the polymer dissolves, leaving behind a new, bodily-made vessel.

 

In clinical trials with rats, the polymer fabric proved successful in encouraging the growth of natural blood vessels. After the artificial blood vessel was inserted, scientists checked the prostheses six months later. Not only was there no sign of inflammation or rejection of the material, but endogenous cells had in fact reinforced the structure, eventually converting the artificial blood vessel into a natural one, as hypothesized. The processes happened much faster than predicted, and researchers are currently working on accelerating the degradation rate of the polymer fabric in the body.

 

Currently, the only medical options available to someone with a blocked blood vessel are bypass surgery or attempting to break apart the obstruction. Both options are risky and many die each year from blood vessel blockages. Although much research must still be done until TU Wien and the Medical University of Vienna’s artificial vessel is deemed safe for human usage, it is a nice alternative to the current alternatives.

 

The team is hopeful that their artificial blood vessel will be approved for human use within a few years. In the meantime, researchers will continue their work through PRIZE prototype funding provided by Austria Wirtschaftsservice.

 

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