What if it was possible to replace the damaged blood vessels of patients with brand new vessels produced in the laboratory?
This is the gamble launched by Inserm researcher Nicolas L’Heureux, whose work focuses on the human extracellular matrix, the structural support of human tissue, which is found around practically all cells of the body.
In a study published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, Nicolas L’Heureux and his colleagues in the “Tissue Bioengineering” unit (Inserm / University of Bordeaux) describe how they cultivated human cells in the laboratory, in order to obtain deposits of extracellular matrix rich in collagen, this structural protein that makes up the mechanical scaffolding of the human extracellular matrix.
” We got thin but very strong extracellular matrix sheets that can be used as building material to replace blood vessels “Explains Nicolas L’Heureux.
These sheets were then cut by researchers to form threads, much like those that make up the fabric of a garment. ” We can weave, knit or braid the threads we have obtained to give them multiple shapes. Our main goal is to make assemblies with these wires which can replace damaged blood vessels “Adds Nicolas L’Heureux.
Entirely made up of biological material, these blood vessels would also have the advantage of being well tolerated by all patients. In fact, collagen does not vary from one individual to another, which implies that these vessels should not be considered by the body as foreign bodies to be rejected.
Researchers now want to refine their production techniques for these “human textiles” before moving on to animal trials, in order to validate this latter hypothesis. If these are successful, they could set up clinical trials.
An innovation described in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, which will still have to pass several stages before being tested in humans.