A research team associated with UNIST has developed a method that uses autologous blood to create three-dimensional microvascular implants, marking a significant advancement in tissue regeneration. These implants have enormous potential for a variety of vascular regeneration-related applications, such as the management of chronic wounds.
The team at UNIST, under the direction of Professor Joo H. Kang from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, successfully created a microfluidic system that can convert blood into an artificial tissue scaffold. This novel strategy permits the formation of robust microcapillary vascular networks within skin wounds, in contrast to earlier techniques that utilized cell-laden hydrogel patches using adipose tissues or platelet-rich plasma. The use of autologous whole blood enhances efficient wound healing and guarantees compatibility.
Utilizing microfluidic shear stresses, the method activates platelets while aligning bundles of fibrin fibers along the streamlines of blood flow. The microenvironment becomes moderately stiff as a result of this alignment and activation process, which creates the ideal conditions for promoting endothelial cell maturation and vascularization. These implantable vascularized engineered thrombi (IVETs) showed superior wound closure rates (96.08 1.58%) when used as patches on rodent dorsal skin wounds. They also showed raised epidermis thickness, enhanced collagen deposition, hair follicle regeneration, decreased neutrophil infiltration, and increased wound healing through improved microvascular circulation.
Chronic wounds provide serious difficulties since they frequently do not heal adequately over time and can result in consequences from vascular diseases and diabetes. In severe situations, they may lead to sepsis, a condition with a high fatality rate that is brought on by a lack of nutrients and oxygen as a result of blood vessel damage.
Professor Kang’s team created IVETs suited for transplantation from autologous blood by utilizing the potential of microfluidic technology. When these IVETs were implanted into mice with full-thickness skin wounds, the entire injured area recovered quickly and scarlessly. The study showed successful blood vessel regeneration at the wound site, facilitated immune cell mobility that is essential for wound healing, and sped up recovery in general.
The scientists then tested the effectiveness of the IVET transplant by injecting the skin injury area with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Infected mice who received artificial blood clots manufactured from their own blood recovered quickly, and proteins and immune cells migrated more readily to fight off the bacterial infection. Additionally, without leaving any scars, collagen synthesis and hair follicle regeneration took place.
These ground-breaking discoveries open the door to cutting-edge methods for tissue engineering and implants based on autologous blood that promote wound healing. This technology has a great deal of potential to transform approaches to treating chronic wounds while advancing regenerative medicine with more development and improvement.