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Autologous Blood-Based Implants Offer Potential for Applications Requiring Vascular Regeneration

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 07 Sep 2023

Chronic wounds present formidable challenges, often defying proper healing and leading to complications associated with conditions like diabetes and vascular diseases. In severe cases, they can culminate in sepsis, a life-threatening condition, due to inadequate oxygen and nutrient supply resulting from the loss of blood vessels. A research team has achieved a significant breakthrough in tissue regeneration by developing technology that harnesses autologous blood to create three-dimensional microvascular implants. These implants hold immense promise for diverse applications requiring vascular regeneration, including the treatment of chronic wounds.

A group of researchers associated with UNIST (Ulsan, Korea) has devised a microfluidic system capable of transforming blood into an artificial tissue scaffold. In contrast to previous methods reliant on cell-laden hydrogel patches using fat tissues or platelet-rich plasma, this innovative approach enables the creation of robust microcapillary vessel networks within skin wounds. The use of autologous whole blood ensures compatibility and promotes effective wound healing. The technology employs microfluidic shear forces to align bundled fibrin fibers along the direction of blood flow streamlines while activating platelets. This alignment and activation process results in moderate stiffness within the microenvironment—an ideal condition

Image: Implantable vascularized engineered thrombi using autologous blood can improve wound healing (Photo courtesy of UNIST)
Image: Implantable vascularized engineered thrombi using autologous blood can improve wound healing (Photo courtesy of UNIST)

When applied as patches to rodent dorsal skin wounds, these implantable vascularized engineered thrombi (IVETs) exhibited superior wound closure rates (96.08 ± 1.58%), increased epidermis thickness, enhanced collagen deposition, hair follicle regeneration, reduced neutrophil infiltration, and accelerated wound healing through improved microvascular circulation. The researchers leveraged the power of microfluidic technology to convert autologous blood into IVETs suitable for transplantation. These IVETs were implanted into full-thickness skin wounds in experimental mice, resulting in rapid and scarless recovery of the entire damaged area. The study demonstrated successful regeneration of blood vessels within the wound site, facilitated movement of immune cells important for wound healing, and speeded up overall recovery.

Additionally, the researchers evaluated the efficacy of IVET transplantation by infecting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—an antibiotic-resistant bacterium—into the skin damage area. When artificial blood clots made from autologous blood were implanted into infected mice, quick vascular recovery was observed alongside enhanced migration of proteins and immune cells to combat bacterial infection. Additionally, collagen formation and hair follicle regeneration occurred without scarring. These groundbreaking findings pave the way for advanced techniques in tissue engineering and wound healing using autologous blood-based implants. With further development and refinement, this technology holds tremendous potential to revolutionize treatment strategies for chronic wounds while contributing to advancements in regenerative medicine.

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