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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Technique for Repairing Small Blood Vessels Being Developed

July 29, 2010

Huge improvements have been made in using stents to repair damages veins and arteries, but little progress has been made to repair damaged small blood vessels. However, biomedical engineering researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington believe they have found a way to help the body regenerate small diameter vascular grafts and have secured a two-year, $140,000 grant from the American Heart Association to refine their process.

Bioengineering Professor Liping Tang, Assistant Professor Jian Yang and their team of post-doctoral and graduate researchers recently developed a novel tissue regeneration method called an orchestrated stem cell regeneration technique (OSCER). OSCER triggers specific tissue regeneration by programming self-donated stem cells using growth factors released from tissue engineered scaffolds. The proposed work is aimed at making small diameter vascular grafts using the OSCER technique.

Dr. Tang said his team’s discovery came as a surprise. “In a search for novel techniques, we rather accidentally discovered that the implantation of certain materials in the lining of the abdominal cavity of mice attracted substantial numbers of stem cells. These recruited stem cells can be programmed to promote endothelialization, the process where a thin layer of tissue grows to produce a smooth surface on the interior walls of small diameter vascular grafts, duplicating natural blood vessels. This process bypasses the tedious and often expensive culture processes required for producing tissue engineering products in the laboratory.”

Dr. Tang and his team will use the American Heart Association grant to improve growth factor-loaded small diameter vascular grafts made of cross-linked, urethane-coated polyester tubes. Then, they will collaborate with Dr. Kristine Guleserian at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas to evaluate whether the OSCER-inspired small diameter vascular grafts can restore circulation in animals. The success of their work may lead to a new generation of tissue engineered products to regenerated needed organs/tissue in patients.

The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Engineering, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, has emerged as one of the most comprehensive engineering programs in North Texas and the nation. The college’s eight baccalaureate, 13 master’s and nine doctoral degree programs serve approximately 3,900 students, making it the fourth largest engineering college in Texas. With more than 21,000 alumni, the college provides the local, regional and national workforce with motivated and highly skilled graduates. Research expenditures in the past year grew to more than $40 million, and the University has invested $160 million over the last three years to add 295,000 square feet of research and teaching facilities. With a commitment to creating viable solutions to today’s most pressing problems, the College of Engineering is helping to propel UT Arlington toward its goal of becoming a national research university.

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