In order to enhance the efficacy of synthetic vascular grafts utilized in heart bypass surgery, researchers are employing a natural material generated from seaweed to stimulate the proliferation of vascular cells, inhibit the formation of blood clots, and increase graft viability. Several scientists from the University of Waterloo’s Chemical Engineering Department and the Oregon Health & Science University’s Biomedical Engineering Department have worked together on this.
Because clots can easily form in artificial blood vessels with a diameter smaller than six millimeters, the novel method, created and evaluated at the University of Waterloo, is especially essential in cases involving such vessels. Synthetic blood vessels were altered by the addition of fucoidan, a substance derived from seaweed. The anticoagulant medication heparin shares structural similarities with fucoidan.
Fucoidan, when applied using a nanotechnology process called micropatterning, encourages the proliferation of vascular cells surrounding the inner wall of the graft, greatly reducing the likelihood of clot formation.
Patients may reap benefits such as the reduced risk of problems, improved quality of life, and prevention of blockages that would necessitate further medication therapy or surgical intervention.
When blood veins in the heart become obstructed, bypass surgery is carried out to reestablish blood flow to those locations. Even while grafts made from the patient’s own vessels are preferred, scarcity often necessitates using artificial vessels as a substitute. Besides heart bypass surgery, grafts are employed to treat vascular disorders and reestablish blood supply to the brain and legs, among other essential organs and tissues.
Clots, which can progress to full blockages or create inflammation that inhibits blood flow, are common when synthetic graft material prevents vascular cells from growing on the interior of an artery or vessel. Yim’s preliminary experiments with fucoidan and micropatterning on small animals have been encouraging, so he hopes to expand to larger species next.
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