New material could change future of children’s surgery

Children with abnormal blood vessels could face less surgeries in the future.

Children with abnormal blood vessels could face less surgeries in the future. Photo: Getty

Researchers have developed new technology that has significant implications for the future of surgery, and could lead to the manufacturing of synthetic heart valves.

An international consortium of researchers led by Sydney University worked on the project, which enabled the manufacturing of a material that mimics the complex structure of living blood vessels.

Preclinical testing found that when the artificial blood vessel was transplanted into mice, the body accepted the material, and grew new cells and tissue.

Senior author Professor Anthony Weiss from the Charles Perkins Centre said it was the first time scientists had seen manufactured vessels develop so similarly to the complex structure of naturally occurring blood vessels.

The development has the potential to transform surgery, particularly for children with abnormal blood vessels, who require multiple surgeries as they grow.

“Nature converts this manufactured tube over time to one that looks, behaves and functions like a real blood vessel,” Professor Weiss said on Monday.

“The technology’s ability to recreate the complex structure of biological tissues shows it has the potential to not only manufacture blood vessels to assist in surgery, but also sets the scene for the future creation of other synthetic tissues such as heart valves.”

Co-author Christopher Breuer from the Center for Regenerative Medicine at US-based Nationwide Children’s Hospital said he was excited about the potential of the research for children.

“Currently when kids suffer from an abnormal vessel, surgeons have no choice but to use synthetic vessels that function well for a short time but inevitably children need additional surgeries as they grow.

“This new technology provides the exciting foundation for the manufactured blood vessels that continue to grow and develop over time.”

The study is published in the international journal Advanced Materials.

– with AAP

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