A new generation of blood vessels?

The HRI’s Applied Materials Group is working to develop the next generation of bioactive materials – materials that can bond to living tissues. 

It is hoped that this will provide better treatment options for people living with cardiovascular disease. 

One of these projects involves looking into the use of silk (yes, from silk worm cocoons) as a material for the engineering of artificial blood vessels. 

Elysse Filipe began this study as part of her PhD project, and is optimistic about where it could lead. 

‘If successful, this could revolutionise the treatment of coronary artery disease,’ says Elysse.

‘Current treatments use blood vessels harvested from the arms and legs of the patients, which are then implanted around the heart to improve coronary blood flow. However in many cases, the use of the patients own vessels is not recommended due to pre-existing vessel disease, advanced age or even because the vessels have already been used for something else. There is currently no 'off-the-shelf’ alternative for these patients. If I am able to create an artificial blood vessel in the lab, it would allow treatment for coronary artery disease without having to use the patient’s own vessels’ she adds.

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