Pitt Researchers Working to Build Better Regrowing Arteries

Mar 24, 2014

University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering researchers are developing a way to help arteries regrow with less risk of an aneurysm after a coronary bypass surgery.

Arturo Valentin and his team are attempting to use new polymers in artery replacements as a way to prevent aneurysm formation.

He said they are working to create an “in host remodeled graft.”

“What that means is that an artificial construct is, well, constructed and implanted into an animal,” Valentin said. “And as time progresses, this construct will degrade, and as this degrades, it’s being replaced by biological materials.”

He said their graft is special because it will degrade completely - leaving behind 100 percent natural tissue.

However, Valentin said if a graft degrades too quickly there is a greater risk of aneurysm.

“What our models are currently telling us is that essentially this rate of, let’s say the degradation of the original construct…is outpacing the rate of cellular production of neobiological material,” Valentin said.  “Essentially, it’s degrading too quickly and that might lead to an aneurysm-like growth in the graft.”

Valentin said developing an aneurysm after a coronary bypass isn’t too common, but it is frequent enough that graft developers need to take it into account.

He said they hope their artificial vascular grafts will help patients who undergo heart bypass operations.

“Typically, you want to use an artery from the patient from some other part of the body,” Valentin said.  “They’re difficult to find in some patients, sometimes you have to use a vein, and there’s problems with that.”

He said their grafts could solve those problems.

“Kind of a holy grail would be to have an artificial construct which you can then use to bypass the blocked artery,” Valentin said.  “To have it eventually look exactly like an original artery so that there won’t be any complications after the surgery and after the implementation and the patient can live a normal life after the procedure.”